Frustrated with the lack of maturity and momentum towards data quality in your organisation? Perhaps it’s time to “go guerilla”.
Many people are coming to the realisation that treating data as an asset makes sound financial sense. There is a clear push from the business community to advance maturity around data quality and governance to prevent the endless cycle of delayed projects, disgruntled customers and compliance headaches.
The challenge for many organisations is where to start. Any serious data quality practitioner will tell you that finding data defects is relatively straightforward, but getting a company to take action and invest in change can be difficult. On Data Quality Pro, we heard the term “Guerilla Data Governance” being used by members a few years ago. So we reached out to explore further and find out what was driving this desire to “go guerilla”.
The tales we heard were largely of frustration with the status quo. People wanted to change and improve the way data was managed, but were often unable to find a leader to take responsibility. Without leadership support, some members found the only option was to strike out on their own and improve the situation at a grass-roots level until management had no choice but to get involved. Some of the common tactics included:
Starting with a highly-focused data quality assessment - Not all data is critical, so it really pays to tighten the net around the data that drives profits, sales, customer growth, etc. Once you have a focal point, employ techniques such as data profiling and user workshops to document the underlying data defects.
Calculating the cost of managing data defects in a reactive, ad-hoc manner - Many managers will be unaware they have data quality issues because they have an army of administration staff correcting data manually. Understanding the costs of how much data quality really costs is a vital starting point in demonstrating the value of improvement.
Measuring the trends of data quality defects and posting the results widely - Members cited the need to be transparent with data quality measures. One member said they post their findings, “everywhere we can - beside the printers, in the washrooms (whatever works!), in the kitchens, on our internal web site and within the corporate wiki.”
Creating a central wiki as a home for rules, definitions, results and a focal point - A big benefit of this is to provide a central location to help managers and other staff observe the progress. One member said it was critical to creating a community spirit which was a key factor in their success.
Linking a fledgling improvement initiative to a bigger project - Another member demonstrated the impact of their data on a major CRM project. As a result, she gained management attention and support because the CRM system was a strategic initiative with a great deal of executive focus that simply could not fail.
“Blowing your own trumpet” - This was a constant activity, particularly when great results were achieved. It helped to spread the guerilla approach around the organisation to new leaders and champions who wished to deploy the techniques in other parts of the business.
So, if you’re faced with management apathy, perhaps it’s time to kick-off a small improvement initiative with fellow change agents by adopting some of these guerilla tactics. As you demonstrate value (and profits) to the organisation, you should naturally find that senior management becomes more receptive to your aims.