Data Governance Postmortem

Jose Almeida
4 min readAug 31, 2020

In an business environment that is rapidly changing and where the pressure to process larger and larger volumes of data, assuring the quality and availability of data to feed the business decision processes, often in real time, has become a priority, but also a critical challenge, as failure to deliver can develop into a disaster for decision making and implementing business strategies.

Data is a critical and strategic asset for any organization, making essential that the get the right information is available at the right time to the right people to enable the organization to gain the necessary edge when facing incredibly competitive markets.

The solution is found in the implementation of data governance frameworks, with the purpose of assuring that timely, consistent and trusted data is provided business to support critical decisions.

Having a data governance framework in place won’t have an direct impact on the business, but will definitely improve trust, transparency, and reliability when meeting customer and stakeholder expectations.

Unfortunately, although the awareness of the strategic importance of data exists, most organizations are slow adopters of data governance frameworks, risking poor strategic decision making and misallocation of critical resources.

The reasons behind this slow adoption are easy to understand as the implementation of a data governance framework in an organization, can sometimes be an overwhelming challenge, highly disruptive and prone to failure.

I will emphasize seven likely causes for failure, seven signs that something needs to be changed to get a data governance program back in track for success.

Lack of leadership buy-in and commitment

Data governance is a process that needs buy-in from every level of an organization, and it starts with strong executive sponsorship but also from every other stakeholder in the organization, which need to be aligned and committed to the program. Otherwise the data governance program will constantly stumble into resistance pouches within the organization.

Lack alignment with business goals and benefits

In any kind of data management initiative there is a principle that needs to be respected and seen as a goal: “Data exists to serve the business”.

This means that any data governance process has to be supported on a strong business case, their objectives need to be anchored on business objectives, otherwise it will be viewed as another siloed IT project with no perceived value from the business side.

Lack of empowerment for the data governance team

Data governance will affect every area of the organization, often it will affect the balance of power within those areas, added to the introduction of a new element, the data governance team. The lack of executive support and weak change management practices will result in the data governance team that is unable to perform any of its work.

Lack of focus on strategic data

At an operational level, most of the organizations rely on dozens of different systems, which handle massive volumes of data of every kind of typology daily. Approaching data governance in a global perspective will inevitably lead to a lack of focus, resulting on a misalignment with the business objectives and incapability to deliver value. Again, being supported on a strong business case that identifies and prioritizes business critical and strategical data is paramount for success.

Lack of cross organization involvement

As mentioned above, data governance is a process that needs buy-in from every level and area of an organization, and failing to clearly transmit the objectives and benefits of data governance, while inevitably lead to a lack of commitment and involvement.

Focus on a technological approach

Technology itself won’t govern data, technology is but one of the components that supports a data governance program, and often proves useless if seem as an end in itself or not properly leveraged on the remaining components of this transformation process.

Time to deliver results

When we look at the characteristics of a data governance program implementation strategy in an organization some characteristics are easily identified, these are expensive, time and resource consuming and span through long time frames, take a sometime to deliver ROI, making it hard, even with a strong sponsorship, to keep the necessary traction to complete all the necessary changes.

The way for the success of a data governance program is in finding the sweet spot that successfully brings together people, process, and technology, backed by a strong executive sponsorship and a close relation with business strategy and objectives (supported by relevant business cases) and operationalized within a agile framework, starting with small initiatives, more focused and efficient, delivering faster returns and creating awareness across the organization, acting as the motor from within the organization, allowing data governance to gain traction and leverage long-term benefits.

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Jose Almeida

Data Consulting and Advisory MEA - Driving better insights through better data (