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Data Governance as a Managed Service

By Kelle O'Neal

The world of data is constantly changing and growing, and data governance is no exception. Because data governance ensures the right people are involved in determining standards, usage and integration of data across projects, subject areas and lines of business, sustainable data governance is foundational for many, if not all, mission-critical data initiatives.

Over the past few decades, the First San Francisco Partners (FSFP) team has delivered countless data governance engagements, helping clients stand up, re-energize, adapt and optimize their programs. Across different levels of maturity, we’ve seen many organizations struggle with available resources to fully operationalize their programs.

Since the beginning of this challenging year, FSFP has been focused on aligning our services and solutions to tactically impact our clients’ bottom line. In the name of business continuity, we’ve shifted from a focus on strategy and planning to delivering quantifiable outcomes to help our clients achieve reduced inefficiencies, optimized costs, mitigated risk and increased business agility and data transformation. With that in mind, we decided to begin offering data governance as a managed service.

Intro to Data Governance as a Managed Service

FSFP’s data governance as a managed service bridges the resource gap so that qualified people are able to lead a data governance program, even if a qualified individual does not exist internally within the organization. This is essential to making sure data is operational in the sense that there are resources available to continue to maintain and monitor the requirements of the business, and how they get translated into business activities. It is a broad service that can help with any area of data governance, ensuring that data governance work gets done while simultaneously complementing the skills and resources already available within an organization.

Every company is different and likely already doing some governance. Our goal is to formalize and expand upon the work that’s already being done and to help clients have resources that are able to hit the ground running to fulfill the requirements of internal business demand and quickly respond to external factors.

The data governance as a managed service approach can be valuable  for larger organizations that have a need for specialized data governance, and could use additional resources to help implement it. Like organizations outsource other functions, out-sourcing a data-specific capability allows a company to focus on their business operations and trust that governance is being executed optimally.

It may also be a fit for organizations that haven’t invested in internal data governance resources, but feel that they need to get governance implemented quickly and comfortably, with an experienced third party doing that governance for them. A shorter term managed service engagement can also be pragmatic for an organization that needs to react quickly to a change, such as in response to a new regulation, an acquisition or a merger.

Other instances where data governance as a managed service can assist organizations with their data needs include:

  • Managing data catalogs
  • Maintaining business glossaries and ensuring that content is fresh
  • Ensuring data models are maintained as an organization grows and changes
  • Maintaining appropriate data classifications and verification of those classifications
  • Overseeing who has a right to view data and implementing the access control process
  • Exception handling and data maintenance for master data management operations
  • Facilitating effective decision-making processes and governance meeting execution
  • Handling communication and stakeholder involvement
  • Measuring data quality and remediating inaccuracies
  • Executing the issue management process and other general operational practices of data governance

How Managed Services Differs from a Traditional Engagement

This type of engagement differs from FSFP’s typical data governance engagement. Most of our engagements are centered around helping a company to set up a data governance practice. What we’ve seen emerge as the industry has matured is a new requirement for helping companies maintain those practices on a long-term basis.

We created data governance as a managed service to ensure that the data governance practice gets implemented effectively and provides continuing business value. By bridging the resources gap with our knowledgeable practitioners, we can help organizations avoid initial operationalization delays, minimize adoption pitfalls (trough of disillusionment) and accelerate time to value.

The big difference between a managed service approach and a typical engagement is that a managed service approach is focused on execution, as opposed to planning. Because a company should be accountable for their own data, key decisions will be made by our client, while we provide recommendations and execute the work — centered around facilitating data understanding. This approach is flexible based on the organization, and what their roadmap is.

As data volumes and data complexity grows and the demands on data governance matures and increases, the ability for organizations to keep up with that pace will become more challenging. FSFP is dedicated to helping businesses meet these new demands, and a managed service-supported approach can be an essential step in doing so.

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