How to build a Data Governance end-user community

26 July 2021
Blog Image

Here’s a question for any Data Governance program manager: What do you think is the most challenging part of your program? Is it gathering all the metadata? Or is it interpreting your organization’s regulatory requirements?

We think it’s neither. Since Datashift was founded back in 2015, we’ve had the opportunity to support several clients in rolling out their Data Governance program. Based on our experience, we believe that getting your organization to participate in the program and creating buy-in is the most challenging obstacle on your road to success.

Let’s take a closer look at how we empowered one of our clients to achieve this, back in the early years of Datashift. As this client started their Data Governance implementation and Collibra journey, their ultimate goal was to have the program quickly gain traction within the organization. Therefore, to engage as many end-users as possible and have them contribute to the program, we set out on a mission to build a thriving end-user community – an approach we’ve successfully applied many times since then.

Start up: create a community feeling

In the initial phase of this particular project, we used a top-down approach to involve our client’s organization. Priorities were defined based on the main concerns of the Central Data Office (which were often regulatory), and these were converted into separate use cases. From the very beginning, we involved the potential end-users and focused with them on the ‘why’ of the use case.

But make no mistake. While involving end-users is essential, it is to no avail if you don’t take the time to listen to what they have to say. That’s why, whenever possible, we made tweaks to the Data Governance implementation based on end-user concerns and expectations. Our top priority was to get end-users started with Collibra and making it part of their day-to-day job by building an end product that combines their needs with those of the Central Data Office. And if extra incentives were needed to make this happen (giving end-users extended access or editing rights, for example), we were in no doubt to do so. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression and convince end-users.

That was just the first hurdle. Next, we brought end-users together on a regular basis to create a community feeling around the initial Data Governance use cases. To achieve that, we organized a series of sessions during which we presented some of the running use cases and helped end-users obtain their Collibra certifications. We even facilitated 1-on-1 interactions between individuals whom we suspected could learn from each other. Those concrete actions not just helped to get a Data Governance community started. They were also instrumental in helping Data Governance ambassadors testify to more parts of the organization how they benefit from Collibra in their day-to-day job.

Scale up: empower end-users

The time had come to shift gears and gradually change our initial top-down approach into a bottom-up approach, empowering end-users to introduce their Data Governance needs and use cases. At the same time, we continued to finetune existing use cases and streamline existing roles within the Data Governance end-user community to formalize roles and responsibilities such as the Data Manager.

As the number of use cases and user roles kept growing, the need for more comprehensive training materials became apparent. We supplemented the existing one-pagers (which continue to prove their value up to this day) with videos covering more extensive learning journeys. In addition, we created a support landing page within the Collibra platform to help all roles defined within the Data Governance end-user community.

To reach the growing end-user community more effectively, we switched from 1-on-1 sessions to a yearly Collibra Event with presentations and workshops for all attendees. We invited all of our client’s end-users who had recently logged into the Collibra platform. Nearly 150 people (including the Chief Data Officer) attended the first edition of this event. This key milestone proved that the Central Data Office was no longer the only institution creating Data Governance awareness within our client’s organization. On the contrary, it showed that Data Governance Ambassadors were popping up from anywhere within the organization, confirming a successful transition of the Collibra implementation from a start-up phase to a scale-up phase.

But… don’t screw up

And while this phased approach may seem obvious in hindsight, we’ve learned since then that there are quite a few pitfalls to watch out for. Let us, therefore, share some tips that we've personally found to be indispensable in guiding an organization through the phases of building a thriving end-user community.

Keep in mind that you only get one chance to make a first impression

This tip is especially relevant in the start-up phase. First, you have to make sure that your story is consistent, relevant, and clear to all participants. Second, you need to tell them how and why the Data Governance program contributes to the organization's overall strategy.

Never forget it’s all about keeping end-users happy

We've found brown-bag sessions to be very useful for engaging Data Citizens within a client’s organization. Not just use these sessions to present various Data Governance topics, but make sure you give all participants a chance to provide feedback. Send newsletters regularly to the end-user community, inviting Collibra users to brown-bag sessions or feedback workshops.

Always keep listening to what end-users have to say

Regular feedback workshops with all end-users should be an integral part of any Data Governance implementation. Let end-users demonstrate use cases to other end-users and give them the responsibility to increase Data Governance awareness throughout the organization. As information is shared directly among colleagues, it becomes easier to convince a wider audience of the added value that Data Governance brings.

It all comes down to continuous improvement

We’ve said it before: getting your organization to participate and creating buy-in is the most challenging obstacle on your road to success as a Data Governance program manager. Ultimately, that’s because Data Governance is a collaborative effort that will only be successful with the help of end-users who keep adding content and Data Governance ambassadors who facilitate these efforts.

Building a thriving end-user community to boost your Data Governance program is a matter of continuous improvement, using the approach that is best suited to the current program status. Not sure how to adapt the way you are reaching out to your organization? Are you looking for inspiring ideas on how to reach out to your Data Citizens? Or are you looking for the best Data Governance tool in the market?

Get in touch with us, and we'll be more than happy to help.