Data Governance – another byline in organizational alignment

As Marketers we have quickly become the holding place for so much data, from who we view as our Total Marketable Universe (both companies and people) to who we communicate with  to what those people care about.  The volume is not trivial nor is the care and maintenance of this information, however few companies have a true process and policy for the care of their marketing data.  

As we clamor for more and more data (purchase history, invoice information, etc.) we need to establish and maintain data governance policies, not just for compliance and legal reasons but also as another way to enhance the relationship between Marketing and the other departments inside of an organization.  Marketing and Sales must be aligned on what data is coming from what systems, who can fill it in and where the expectation for supplying information comes from.  Marketing and  Accounting need a good working relationship to ensure that marketers can really understand who a “customer” is and can maintain a loop between the systems to flag these people for the appropriate marketing based on their place in the customer lifecycle. IT and Marketing need a deep relationship to ensure that systems are in compliance with both internal security standards and, where needed, external compliance standards that the company is subject to.   To this end, here is a step-by-step guide to establishing a data governance policy.

  1. Create a cross-departmental committee for data governance.  Bring together representation from each group that holds major data and be prepared to explain why you (as Marketing) want and need to share information with this team.
  2. Understand who uses the system and what their goals are.  Everyone from the end-user who accesses the CRM to the Marketing Manager designing Campaigns to the Customer Service Representative who takes support calls should be considered in this process.  Understand who touches the data and at what points as well as what they need to get out of the systems.
  3. Determine what the system of record is.  If your Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) is the system of record then link all of your other data sets to it, or, if you need to maintain a few systems define the use cases.  For example, the ERP system might be the system of record when it comes to determining who a “customer” is but your MAP might be the gold standard with regards to prospects and the pre-sales process.
  4. Assess the health of your current database.  Once you understand what systems should be the standard for your various processes, establish a baseline assessment of the completeness, quality and correctness of the records in these tools.
  5. Understand what your deficiencies are; after you have established a baseline map out where you have gaps to fill and then create an action plan for fulfilling them.
  6. Fill in the gaps.  Pretty self-explainatory 🙂
  7. Build technological process to prevent lapses.  This may take the form of integration between your systems or data washing machines in an external database or even data append programs in your CRM or MAP tools, whatever it is create a process that does not require daily monitoring.  You should be able to build it, review it periodically and let it run.
  8. Build business process and reporting for exceptions.  Knowing what your problems were before you filled in the gaps and what key pieces of data are necessary for the users in each system build out exception repots that can be checked on a regular basis and reviewed for necessary corrections.
  9. Dashboards to review health at a glance, set yourself up for success by creating monitoring dashboards that show (at a very high-level) whether or not your tools are maintaining your systems as you expect them to.

How far along is your company on the path to a realistic data management policy?

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