NEWS

Chief Data Officer – The first 100 days, part 2

Authors: Caroline Carruthers, Chief Data Officer Network Rail, and Peter Jackson, Head of Data The Pensions Regulator.

So what are your ‘information basics’?

From the last article we talked about the idea of getting your basics right but left you on a bit of a cliff hanger so thought we could revisit the basics and give you a little more detail.

To keep it simple we’ve broken these down into three main areas

Governance 

Let’s face it, you will be making changes to the organisation and you might not always get it right first time – remember the old saying ‘if you never make a mistake you aren’t trying hard enough!’ so what must be in place is a way of letting people know what is expected of them, what are they really accountable for; be that policies, standards, procedures or whatever your company used to help everyone understand their responsibilities, as well as a control mechanism for managing those policies. How do you make decisions on how the organisation needs to treat its data and information? Who is involved in this process? If you are smart you get people involved who cover large parts of your company – the plot for ‘buy in’ starts here.

Information architecture 

Next let’s look at your information architecture, not the vast swathes of detail that sit in your data dictionary (at least not at this point) but the big headings. What are the top 5 to 10 ish headings which describe all the information in your company and (most importantly) who is the one person who could make a decision on each one. This is not about playing the blame game, that just makes individuals hide from any kind of accountability and leads to a kind of companywide whack a mole game. Remember the quote from above ‘if you aren’t making mistakes….’ Your Information domain owners are accountable experts in their fields who understand specific areas of information within your business and can give firm direction and decisions in their area. Once you have the highest conceptual level agreed then it’s time to move onto the next level, adding richer detail as you go.

Engagement

Lastly and definitely not least, how are you going to engage with the company? Where is your network of evangelists coming from who will sell your message? It’s great that you know who can make decisions about the information and that you have clear instructions on how people should treat your company’s data but it really is pointless unless you tell them. Naturally we are talking about mass company wide emails that of course everyone reads every detail of, inwardly digests and miraculously and immediately changes their behaviour…….. in our dreams! This is hearts and minds time here, what is your compelling argument to change, how are you making their life better and what is in it for them that makes it worth changing their behaviour? At the very least tell them what you expect from them.

Get all that right and at least you know you have covered off your basics while you start your journey.

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