Data Governance Programs Experience Growing Pains

ABSTRACT: Most organizations are just starting their data governance journeys and need to address various challenges before they deliver value.

Many organizations have created data governance programs but still need to improve the quality and security of enterprise data before they deliver significant business value. This is the primary finding of an ongoing benchmark assessment conducted by Eckerson Group, a research, consulting, and advisory firm specializing in data & analytics. 

“We are seeing sizable demand from organizations seeking assistance with data governance,” says Sean Hewitt, senior data governance consultant at Eckerson Group. “Some need help launching a program, others need help restarting a stalled program, and a few want to extend it to new areas of the business.” Sean is a keynote speaker at Eckerson Group’s upcoming CDO TechVent on Data Governance Platforms on April 26, 2022. 

Early stage maturity. According to preliminary assessment results, the average data governance maturity of organizations is 2.88 out of 5.0. This places the average organization at the high-end of the “Initiating” stage of maturity. 

Organizations at the Initiating level have launched a data governance program and have pockets of good governance, but still need to scale up the program. These organizations are still developing policies and standards, establishing committees, and recruiting data stewards and owners. To succeed, they need to educate business people about the importance of data governance and embed data governance into development processes and the culture of the organization. (See figure 1.)

Figure 1. Eckerson Group’s Data Governance Maturity Model

The benchmark assessment scores the maturity of data governance programs in six categories: culture, program, roles, data management, processes, and technology. Organizations scored slightly higher in the culture and data management categories, and slightly lower in the program, roles, and technology categories. Culture defines executive leadership, employee attitudes, and an organization’s ability to balance openness and security, among other things. Data management consists of the data activities that organizations are actively governing, such as data quality, data privacy, and data security. (See figure 2.)

Figure 2. Average Category Scores

Instrument. The benchmark assessment consists of 40 questions and scores the maturity of data governance programs in six categories: culture, program, roles, data management, processes, and technology. Individuals or teams can complete the assessment, which runs on a collaborative benchmarking platform developed by Eckerson Group. 

Upon submitting the assessment, respondents automatically receive a personalized and dynamically-generated report with their scores compared to the mean. The benchmark platform enables respondents to filter scores to benchmark themselves to a peer group as well as export and share the results. We encourage all data governance teams to take the benchmark assessment annually so they can gauge their progress over time. 

Other Findings 

The results described here are based on 48 completed assessments from organizations of all sizes and regions of the world. Forty-one percent of respondents work for organizations in North America and 22% in Europe. More than half (50%) work for organizations with more than 2,500 employees. 

Challenges. The top challenge facing data governance programs is “lack of data stewards” cited by 54% of respondents. Other challenges are  “conflicting priorities (46%), “lack of a plan” (46%), “unclear responsibilities (46%), “lack of time (44%), “lack of adequate tools” (40%), “resistance to change” (38%), and “lack of executive support” (37%).  (See figure 2.)

Figure 2. Challenges Facing Data Governance Programs

Budget. Given the lack of overall maturity of the respondent base, it’s not surprising that data governance budgets are rather small. Only 10% of respondents said their data governance budgets exceeded $500,000. More than a third (37%) have budgets of less than $250,000 and about a quarter (23%) didn’t know the budget or didn’t have one. (See figure 3.) 

Figure 3. Data Governance Budgets

Data Management. Data lakes (48%) and reports/dashboards (46%) are the most popular data assets to govern, according to the benchmark assessment. These are followed by data security (41%), data quality (41%), data privacy (35%), and data architecture (33%). Surprisingly, data warehouse (24%) and self-service analytics (7%) registered low in comparison, even though both inflict much pain and extra work when minimally or poorly governed. (See figure 4.) 

Figure 4. Governed Data Management Functions

Business value. Finally, only a handful of data governance programs deliver “high” business value (2%). More than three-quarters (78%) deliver moderate (39%) or low (39%) business value. And almost a quarter (22%) deliver no business value or haven’t launched yet. (See figure 5.) 

Figure 5. Business Value of Data Governance Programs

If you or your team are interested in taking the benchmark assessment, click the link. Eckerson Group will run the assessment in perpetuity so data governance managers and their teams take it annually to gauge the progress of their programs. For more information, contact Wayne Eckerson at [email protected].

Wayne Eckerson

Wayne Eckerson is an internationally recognized thought leader in the business intelligence and analytics field. He is a sought-after consultant and noted speaker who thinks critically, writes clearly and presents...

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