The Rocky Horror Data Show: Did you get what you asked for?

Data shouldn’t be a wild and untamed thing, but sometimes it is just that – wild… and untamed. And unfortunately for our friend Tim, he’s about to find out just how wild and untamed data can be. As this is ‘The Rocky Data Horror Show’… where the data is not what it seems.

Tim is now a couple of weeks into his new role as the new Data Governance Manager at the Magical Wish Factory, until now data governance there had been left to the head of IT, Janet. (If you missed the first blog in this series you can read it here).

When we last seen our friends Tim and Janet, they were looking at changing the culture within their organisation to successfully implement a data governance initiative and over the last few weeks, chaos and miscommunication have reigned.

Tim and Janet are quickly learning that people all around the organisation have different definitions of common business terms – and it’s giving them a serious headache and double the workload!

“WHAT are we going to do about this!?” Janet cried, banging her head on the desk.

“Well, this is all part of that culture shift we were talking about – this is step one in getting everyone singing from the same hymn sheet” Tim replied.

“Well, what can we do to fast track this? Is there a standard list of definitions we can email around?”

“If only…” replied Tim.

You see, this isn’t Tim’s first data governance rodeo, so Tim already knows that if the Magical Wish Factory is to succeed with its new initiative this important step of creating a Business Glossary that’s tailored to the organisation is not one that can be skipped over.

Tim went on “…The thing about Data Governance Janet, is that it takes a long time. And particularly in the early phases, it takes quite a lot of effort including creating a Business Glossary that suits our business needs.

“I can guarantee you that the data definitions we used in my last job at the Bubble Gum & Lollies Plant have no relevance to the Magical Wish Factory, even though they’re in the same sector.

“Organisations, even those within the same industry, very rarely use the same terminologies in exactly the same way. This means there is no bank of standard definitions to pick and choose from; what works for us, will very rarely work for anyone else. Only by creating your own data glossary can you be sure that you have the correct definitions within it.”

“Without these, you can’t be certain that you are using the right data or if it is good enough to use.  What if a decision had been made in the past based on incorrect data… perhaps we stopped granting wishes that related to cake, because one of the senior wish granters is shown a report that says they’re no longer popular, but after they stopped granting them, they realised that it had been the data for another product with a similar name, like cookies, for example!”

“Well, that would be terrible!” replied Janet.

And so, Tim and Janet set about creating a Business Glossary that was bespoke to the Magical Wish Factory. This starts some small, but significant, changes to the culture within the organisation.

First, Tim and Janet simply start making sure that they are defining what they are asking for from those that hold the data. For example, instead of just asking for a report containing a list of field names, the pair start including a very brief description – it doesn’t need to be much just enough to enable someone to work out what it is you want. And after setting a good example, they ask others to start doing the same.

And every time Janet and Tim define something they store that definition in a central location, thus slowly but surely building up a comprehensive Business Glossary that can be shared with the rest of organisation, allowing them to lay the foundations for the culture change needed at the Magical Wish Factory.

Stay tuned for episode 3 of The Data Governance Coach’s new series ‘The Rocky Horror Data Show’ and follow the adventures of Tim and Janet as they try to implement a successful data governance initiative at the Magical Wish Factory.

Don’t forget if you have any questions, you’d like covered in future videos or blogs please email me – questions@nicolaaskham.com.

Originally published on https://www.nicolaaskham.com/