Skip to main content

Key takeaways:

  • Senior data leaders shared how you can promote the value of data governance to stakeholders by participating in key data management decisions and highlighting how governance teams reduce risks.
  • Participating in business decisions can add input from subject matter experts on the best practices for data management in your company. Data governance teams can play a key role in implementing new platforms and modernizing legacy systems to reduce risks.
  • Collaborating with all business units can highlight how your data governance team helps enterprise-wide. Partnering with data privacy teams can help highlight the value of data governance, and unifying strategies for teams that give more pushback are essential in aligning your efforts.

When building out a data governance strategy, it’s essential to sell your data governance program as a value proposition to your executives and educate senior leaders to enable digital transformation in your organization and accelerate innovations for business decisions.

During an Enterprise Data Strategy Board panel discussion on elevating data governance, senior data leaders at American Express, Principal Financial Group, and Envestnet shared insights on how they’ve sold data governance as a key value proposition in their companies and how they’re collaborating with business units to break down silos of data management to advance their strategies.

Educate Your Stakeholders on the Positive Outcomes of Effective Data Governance

Scott Zinn, Vice President of Enterprise Data Governance at American Express, explained how leaders in financial services companies sell data governance as a key value proposition by educating stakeholders on the ability to reduce risks.

He shared how governance teams should play as marketers for their programs and communicate the positive outcomes that effective management creates. Scott said highlighting how your program improves data quality and discipline across all business lines for reporting is one of the first steps in proving value to executives.

“What I tell my team is, we need to be bullish and loud and good at marketing the wins and the outcomes of what we do.”

Scott Zinn, Vice President of Enterprise Data Governance at American Express

But he also noted how selling data governance as a key value proposition is changing, as many business leaders are looking to governance teams to help with decision making for data architectures and building platforms.

“I’d say early on, you had to push to be invited for a seat at the table when there were discussions about having your technology architecture teams or product teams together to build or modernize a particular platform,” Scott said. “I’ve seen a shift over the last couple of years where teams are getting that invite to be there to have the right folks to add insights on if this is the best way from a data perspective to create solutions.”

Having your governance team involved in those discussions for data management can highlight where your company can reduce risks.

For example, Scott shared how data governance teams can inform senior leaders on considerations for data management that may not have been previously discussed and how to avoid building applications that create redundancy in your company.

“What I tell my team is, we need to be bullish and loud and good at marketing the wins and the outcomes of what we do,” Scott said.

Reduce Risks for Legacy Platforms

Your data governance team also plays a fundamental role in keeping legacy platforms modernized, according to Principal Financial Group Director of Data Governance Renee Langeness.

“A lack of data governance and good data management practices has created risk in legacy systems, and I think that can be overwhelming to educate people about how we reduce risks when we have operated for so many years with this lack of consistent practice,” Renee said.

She noted when companies modernize their legacy platforms, governance teams help create value in their programs by adding input into updated management platforms. For example, Renee said her team creates more visibility on establishing clear rules for data reporting and accountability for ownership.

“A lack of data governance and good data management practices has created risk in legacy systems.”

Renee Langeness, Director of Data Governance at Principal Financial Group

Encourage Collaboration Across Your Organization to Highlight the Value of Data Governance

In a members-only conversation on aligning your data team across the organization, Enterprise Data Strategy Board members shared how cooperation is needed to make your strategy viable. But with stakeholders often spread across departments with different KPIs and priorities, communication and internal partnerships are essential in proving the value of data governance.

During the panel discussion on elevating data governance, Lisa Novier, Head of Governance, Risk, and Compliance for Data Analytics at Envestnet, shared how collaborating with privacy teams can highlight the value of governance in reducing risks in your company.

She explained how there’s a daily relationship between privacy and governance teams at Envestnet.

“I view data governance as the enabler of privacy,” Lisa said. “It allows you to enable those rules, regulations, guardrails, or whatever it is that you have to follow in terms of privacy. And it’s the enabler to make that compliance component of privacy quick, easy, and automated.”

Lisa shared how a member of your privacy team should sit on your data governance council to gain input on the tools used for privacy standards and to ensure compliance.

“[Data governance] allows you to enable those rules, regulations, guardrails, or whatever it is that you have to follow in terms of privacy.”

Lisa Novier, Head of Governance, Risk, and Compliance for Data Analytics at Envestnet

She added how you can prove more value to data governance by highlighting the privacy teams and how they also reduce risks.

“I think that’s where you find your win — in the areas of the company that need the support in terms of understanding how to be compliant with privacy requirements,” Lisa said. “Then acting as that translator between privacy and governance and helping the business to understand how they’re going to solve their problems.”

Collaborating with teams with more pushback against governance

In terms of teams with more friction, Enterprise Data Strategy Board members noted that infosecurity teams ranked high, particularly with issues around personally identifiable information. During the private discussion on aligning data teams across the enterprise, members added that sometimes the attitude from infosecurity teams could be to implement policies first and then deal with the business ramifications after the fact.

Members also discussed how working with IT teams can be a fraught relationship as well. They shared how there are often struggles around tool parameters versus innovations. Members said the view of enterprise technology versus the needs of a specific business unit were both common occurrences.

Members also shared that finance teams can have different priorities that require 100% accuracy as a matter of practice, which may not be necessary for data models and reports to give good insights.

Several strategies for this pushback were shared, including centralizing analytics and the enterprise tech solutions under one leader to have a unified strategy and reduce conflict. Some members have also attempted to create dotted-line relationships between groups in federated data models, including mutual accountability for goals.

In the public panel discussion, Scott shared how his team at American Express created alignment across their business units by prioritizing efforts on customer domains.

“The way we’ve shaped our focus, our prioritization, our roadmap on that customer domain, back to organizing your data at a domain and down to subdomain levels, is so important,” Scott said. ” It allows you to hone in on particular areas with potentially more intensity or prioritization than others.”

He shared how focusing on what’s right for their customers has created alignment for governance across the company, particularly relating to privacy and information.

“We’ve prioritized our roadmap on the activities that are underway from a data management perspective that is highly influenced by privacy and compliance in the financial space, or Financial Crimes Division, as well as information.”

Learn more on how your peers are selling governance programs as value propositions to secure investment

Scott, Renee, and Lisa are all members of the Enterprise Data Strategy Board and shared more leadership insights during the panel discussion on how you can sell data governance as a value proposition to your stakeholders. They also discussed selecting the right data catalog for your enterprise and ensuring data management best practices are aligned across all business units.

Enterprise Data Strategy Board members meet weekly to benchmark their strategies on data governance programs and continually gain peer insights on how to educate stakeholders on how effective governance helps achieve business outcomes.

If you lead data management, analytics, and governance at a large enterprise, you can apply to learn more about how your peers are advancing their strategies and how you can secure more investment in your data governance program.

Interested in learning more?

As a leader, your mission is important. We’re here to help you win.

Apply to Join