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How to get your Data Governance project approved and funded

One of the hardest challenges for data professionals is to get their projects authorised and funded. Without doing so, proposals which could unlock an incredible amount of value are left abandoned in pptx documents.

Here are five pointers to help you on your way:

1. Know your audience

It is vital to understand who the decision makers are and what influences those decisions.

The presentation to committee or (worse) by email should not be the first time that these decision makers come across your proposal. They should already have an awareness of what you want to achieve, why, and the approximate level of investment required.

2. Meet a business need

There are three outcomes that make the proposal valuable:

  1. It helps the organisation to make more money.
  2. It helps the organisation to spend less money.
  3. It reduces the amount of risk that the organisation is exposed to.

Whether a) or b) are more important to the organisation will be decided by the nature of its business and how it is developing. Is it looking to grow or is it focusing on cost cutting?

The level of focus on risk exposure is increased by regulatory change such as GDPR or CCPA; or an event which occurs at the organisation such as a data breach.

3. Create a quick win

You need to build credibility quickly - you need to show both that data governance can deliver business benefit and also that you are capable of delivering it effectively.

Demonstrate this with a quick win to add value and gain support. You should already be aware of some open challenges and be able to find a suitable one. Don't underestimate the importance of speed - I recommend that you should be delivering an enhancement within no more than two weeks.

4. Add more value than other opportunities

Unless there is a specific need to carry out activity (e.g. Improving processes after a breach), then budget holders will be considering the Return on Investment (RoI) against other proposals from across the organisation.

Can you argue, for example, that your data governance programme is a better use of resources than increasing marketing spend or opening a new business location?

If not, why not?

5. Don't gold plate

Gold plating is a common challenge against carrying out the proposed activity. Taking a business glossary as an example, it should be pretty acceptable concept that we should agree what key terms, such as customer, mean. On the other hand, it is hard to justify having an agreed definition for every single concept used across the business.

A helpful approach here is to compare light, medium and heavy proposals - demonstrating how the light (or zero) approach is unsuitable; but also showing how a complete (gold plated) approach is as well. This frames your middle-ground proposal as pragmatic and reasonable.

In summary - it's not about you

Each of these pointers is about putting yourself in the position of your stakeholders. Understanding who they are, what they want, and how to make your proposal compelling to them, will make you more successful.


Good luck!
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