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This is What it Takes to Effectively Communicate a Data Governance Program


Effective communication is key for the launch of any large-scale organizational effort. For firms implementing a new (or revamping an old) Data Governance program, communication may play an even greater role.

That’s because Data Governance (DG) can be a foreign-sounding or intimidating term to employees. When you communicate what’s in it for them and why it’s important to govern data, employees will better understand and support your DG program.

According to the Harvard Business Review’s Changing the Conversation in Your Company article, research shows that more and more seniors leaders are buying in to the power of internal communication to improve strategic alignment and boost employee engagement.

Want to reach new levels of success with your new or relaunched governance program? Consider these elements when crafting and communicating it.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Introduce Program EarlyIntroduce program early

It doesn’t take long for word to get out about any new company initiative, especially where change or oversight is involved. News will travel quickly after the core governance team’s meetings are held and PowerPoints are distributed. That’s why it’s important to communicate your program early and, if possible, before its launch.

Get the word out quickly via your most-effective communication channels. All-employee emails, town halls (if one is coming up) and manager-only meetings work well. Share high-level information about what’s known as of the moment, then set expectations about regular updates that will follow. Describe the expected benefits to the company, and single out individuals, teams and departments playing key roles. Also, communicate the governance program’s expected launch date and key milestones people can expect to hear about.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Executive SponsorLook beyond the executive sponsor

The executive sponsor of a DG program is a natural fit for who should deliver messages. But consider expanding the responsibilities to the governance implementation team and key stakeholders, too. The implementation team can take turns sharing perspectives, including how it impacts each business area. Key stakeholders from legal and compliance, for example, could also participate.

Another area to involve is to recruit a corporate communications team member. Tap into this person’s expertise — and his or her communications and project management skills — to help shoulder the communication plan messaging and delivery.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Organizational ValueDemonstrate organizational value

When employees begin to see the benefits of a DG program, it breaks down barriers to acceptance and participation. Both front-line and line-of-business managers can play a role in demonstrating program value. They’ll be at their most effective and consistent, though, with regular encouragement from senior management and the executive sponsor. Aid them in the distribution of information with ready-made content, like talking points, presentations, metrics and progress scorecards, etc.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Relatable ExamplesUse relatable examples

Each department in your firm likely knows its strong and weak points when it comes to problems with data processes,  quality and management. When the governance team identifies areas for improvement, share those examples with employees — management, too, of course — to help them envision the positive outcomes of the DG program.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Jargon-FreeKeep messages jargon-free

With the DG team’s close connection to the program, acronyms and other shorthand references are sure to develop. While insider terms can be effective in keeping the core team on the same page, they lose their effectiveness when shared more broadly. Use clear, concise, jargon-free messages to win and keep your employees’ attention and understanding.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Different MediumsUse different mediums

Communicate program messages via a variety of channels and methods to capture employee attention and break through information overload. And be creative! Use channels like your intranet, company email and any internal social platform. Recruit your corporate marketing team to craft a governance brand or program tagline. Consider videos you can produce internally at low or no cost. Enlist your design team to create a memorable infographic showing the components of the governance program. Each communication should be complementary of the others — look and feel, terminology and messaging.

Data Governance Program Communication Tips Important MilestonesCommunicate regularly, including milestones

After the initial kick-off messages in the first month, your communication work has only just begun. Encourage the implementation team and corporate communications professional to develop a timeline. Scheduling out topics and  communication channels will ensure a steady drumbeat of messages employees can discover online and in-person. And don’t forget to share key milestones and accomplishments to reinforce program goals and highlight successes.

While employee communication is just one part of a DG program, it’s a critical one. The time you spend developing and delivering thoughtful, employee-focused information on a regular basis, the more successful your program will be. Manager and employee support of data-related practices will fall into place more easily, be sustained, and your organization’s data management practices will be stronger for it.

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