Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Getting the most out of your audience

Forums, whether called a 'Data Governance Forum', 'Data Stakeholder Forum' or 'Data Quality Forum' are generally a good method to aid communication between your Data Quality Function and the wider business community. Key data stakeholders from throughout an organisation would periodically meet to discuss challenges, issues, roadmaps and strategic data alignment.

How to conduct a forum and what should be the scope of these meetings are in themselves items of great debate, however, here are three simple suggestions to improve the chances of success:

  • Don't use the forum to dictate your vision. The purpose of the forum should be on discussion, with the aim of co-operation to enable you to realise your vision as a Data Quality leader. If you walk into your first meeting stating that the business are accountable for the poor quality data in the organisation, and they need to start taking ownership and responsibility to improve it, chances are your next forum will be sparsely attended. Instead of dictating strategic direction learn to understand the business challenges and the history of data use within the organisation. You are not going to realise your vision without the support of the wider community.

  • Don't blind your audience. If your audience (primarily the business) don't understand you, they will feel confused and distance themselves from your forum. Know your audience, identify and understand their needs, paraphrasing in a language they understand. If you start talking about Informatica Mappings, Data Types and Levenshtein Distance, chances are the business attendees will see this as a technology forum and neglect to attend your next meeting.

  • Use the forum as a means of gaining feedback. What's going well? What isn't going well? What could we do better? The idea is to receive feedback and constructive criticism from your stakeholders in order to improve the service that you provide. Often it is only when the business have confidence in your service and abilities to support them in business as usual activities that they will buy in to your strategic data management initiatives.

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