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Zebra’s Data Governance Office Tackles All Things Data, by Brad Salmon

Here is a great example of how one of our clients, Zebra Technologies, is rolling out their internal communications strategy for Data Governance.

One common deliverable for most Data Governance groups is building and delivering internal communications that effectively communicate and define strategy and process.  Zebra’s communication below is an excellent template for clear, concise communications.

Recently, Mike Smiley, Zebra’s CFO, was named one of the Top 25 Information Managers for 2012

Zebra's Data Governance Office

Assembling the components of an MDM and Data Governance program at Zebra are the Data Governance Office personnel.

The Data Governance Office (DGO) at Zebra Technologies is a small, strategically focused group that monitors the management of critical information, such as customer addresses and e-mails or whether an item is available for order. The office plays a lead role in ensuring that all the information—known as master data—that we use to run our business is of the highest quality. This is critical to our success, as this master data is shared across systems and used by many different functional groups to do their work.  Without the highest quality master data, we cannot delight our customers or maximize operational efficiency.

Data governance is a relatively new and emerging discipline. Many companies are recognizing that master data is a competitive asset, and like any asset, it needs to be managed and protected by establishing and maintaining standards of use for everyone to follow.

The DGO partners with various business units to set data standards and policies. This includes how data is formatted, stored and accessed. It also monitors data usage to ensure compliance with data standards and policies, and drives the continuous improvement of data quality.

Thanks to one of the DGO’s many cross-company partnerships, Zebra ensures the correct use of data fields.  For example, DGO’s partnership with Zebra’s Global Trade Compliance Office ensures, among other things, that the Country of Origin attribute, necessary for compliant and timely Customs clearance—and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule Numbers of NALA, EMEA and APAC attributes required for all import and export clearances of the articles across the globe—are entered, populated and maintained accurately.  When such data is not in parity with the government’s requirements, the implications to Zebra’s ability to do business are significant, ranging from delays with deliveries to substantial monetary penalties.

The Data Governance Office is also working with several groups on product lifecycle status. This data drives many business processes through our ERP system indicating when products can be ordered and shipped to customers and how the supply chain should plan and inventory products. Incorrect information here translates into poor service for our customers and internal confusion and frustration for Zebra employees. It can also result in misguided inventory investments.

While there is a great deal of work to do in launching the Data Governance program, the effort is critical to Zebra’s success. In 2013, the Data Governance Office plans to continue working closely with our business partners to make significant changes in how we manage our data. We will update you in future articles.

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