Org. Change and Data Governance

I read a great article recently by Steve Sarsfield on his blog “Data Governance and Data Quality Insider” about Change Management and Data Governance, and it got me thinking about the critical role that organizational change management plays in any well founded data governance program.

For almost ten years, with a few years off during the “Dot Com” era, I implemented Oracle’s CRM and ERP products. One of the things I came to appreciate during that time was the huge difference that including organizational change management makes between a successful implementation and a “less than successful” one.

That’s why I include emphasizing the organizational change management aspects as one of the “Ten Best Practices in Master Data Management and Data Governance” when I speak at conference like the Oracle Applications Users Group COLLABORATE 10 or Oracle OpenWorld.

That’s because big transformational programs like MDM and data governance are not that different from CRM and ERP. Any time you want the organization to embrace new processes and new technology, and more importantly to modify its DNA (that is, its culture), you’ve got to embrace “org. change”.

I’ve got a friend who is a professor in this stuff at Southern New Hampshire University, with a distinctive name – Dr. Burt Reynolds. I first met him on a 12 month ERP project at a $1 billion software company, where he helped define the org. change strategy. I studied what he did very carefully, and I’ve tried to weave it into every project I’ve done since then.

One of the biggest elements is the communications strategy. First, learn about your audience. How do they like to learn about things? Do they like e-mail newsletters, internal web sites, one-on-one meetings with their supervisors, town hall meetings with company leaders, lunch and learn sessions with project team leadership, small training sessions, etc.

Second, think about your message. Some things lend themselves to certain media better than others. Short, snappy messages are probably better suited for town hall meetings. Technical material is better handled in hands-on training sessions. Anything involving changes to individual positions is best suited for individual meetings with supervisors.

What you’ll wind up with is a grid of messages on the left and media across the top. Then you add in the time element (when to deliver these messages), and you’ll have your internal communications campaign.

Steve mentions in his article the ADKAR model for organizational change developed by Prosci: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.

What this will produce is a well-coordinated internal communications strategy, that when you deliver it, will result in every stakeholder and business constituent being aware of your data governance program, why it’s necessary, and how it links to the overall business strategy of the company.

As for desire to participate in the change, you want to reach as many people as possible, recruit some to be champions of the program, educate others so they’re at least neutral towards it, and keep the number of active opponents as small as possible.

Your communications plan must include a healthy amount of knowledge transfer, because data governance, although not solely a technology driven activity, includes enough technology that the people actively involved in it need to be completely comfortable with it.

You’ll also be raising the bar for the ability and skill of many of the individuals in the company, as well as redesigning some of the processes for entering, updating and consuming master data. Be prepared for the amount of time this is going to take, as well as the force of the political pushback you’ll encounter. People and organizations have a lot of inertia and tend to resist change at first. That’s why reinforcement is so important, by repeating important messages several times and weaving them into different media.

Steve’s article was great, and brought back to me the importance of introducing organizational change management into MDM and data governance programs. It can literally make the difference between success and failure. Please let us know – here in the comments or on in the forums on the MDM Community – what you think of applying org. change to MDM and data governance.

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5 Comments on “Org. Change and Data Governance”

  1. David Montgomery 10/08/2010 at 8:55 am #

    Dan, I like the message in this blog and the one by Steve Sarsfield. Regardless of the transformation programme (MDM or data governance) the message is that it will be a change from the way the organisation is currently operating. For that reason the principles of good change management should be applied. I would extend your point further that the areas of communication and engagement should be one of the first things done on any programme, my question would be: Will the organisation embrace the need for new processes, new technology or new ways of working if they haven’t been involved in determining the need for change in the first place: Is there an urgency for change? So ensuring the people who will be the recipient of the change are involved as early as possible is key.

    In terms of data management having principles in place for how data is Understood, Managed, Owned, Trusted and Valued in the organisation will help promote this engagement and smooth the path for any Information Change programme that may come along.

  2. Dan Power 10/08/2010 at 11:13 am #

    David, I think you make some very good points. If the people who will need to embrace the new processes, the new technology and the new way of working haven’t been involved in determining the need for change in the first place, it’s going to be very hard. That’s why I try to suggest that (a) the business drive the MDM or data governance initiative from the beginning, and (b) organizational change management disciplines be used to market and promote the changes and ensure a smooth transition to the new environment.

    Great hearing from you out here, and looking forward to more comments from you and more engagement from our friends at Evaxyx!


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