The BI and Data Governance Disconnect

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In many organisations the Business Intelligence (or Management Information) team is a very separate entity from the Data Governance or Data Quality team.  Indeed, in many organisations the BI Team is part of IT, whereas Data Governance and Data Quality is usually (but not always) part of the business.  Now this has led many people to mistakenly believe that BI and data governance have no relationship with each other.

To some extent I can understand how this has happened.  After all Business Intelligence as a discipline has existed considerably longer than Data Governance.  It’s easy to see why people might assume that if it has existed for so long without data governance, that it has no relevance or is not needed by them.

However I think the opposite is true and that Business Intelligence teams would benefit greatly if data governance was implemented and fully embedded within their organisation.  Now you may be asking yourself why might this be?

Business intelligence is about applying analysis to multiple sources of data and information to improve business decision-making.  As you know the main aim of implementing data governance is to improve the quality of your data.  So if you take the next logical step, if the data you’re applying analysis techniques to is of poor quality, then the results of your BI are unlikely to be the correct ones!

If the executives in your company are making decisions based on the wrong data, is very likely that they are making the wrong decisions.  These will not be in the best interests of your organisation in the long run.  Now of course that is a sweeping statement and assumes that your BI Team is not aware of the quality of your data and in my experience that is very rarely the case.  In fact fairly often your highly skilled BI Team spend a lot of time fixing the data before they can produce the reports that you have requested.

This issue was highlighted to me very early on in my data governance career when I worked alongside a business intelligence team.  One day, during a chance conversation the team mentioned that they wished they had more time to spend on BI activities.  Now this bewildered me as up until that point I had been under the impression that that was what they spent 100% of their time doing!  But upon questioning them it became clear that they spent only 50% of their time on analysis, as they had to spend so much time cleansing and fixing data before it was in a good enough condition for them to use. The quality of the data they were using was of such poor quality that unless they undertook onerous cleansing activities, the great looking reports and dashboards were valueless at best.  Or even worst they would be helping senior management potentially make the wrong decisions.

So for me the connection is very clear if you are paying clever people to analyse your data, wouldn’t you rather they spent the time using the skills for which you are paying them?  This is a topic which I feel strongly about and that is why I’m presenting on “Why you need a data governance strategy to support your BI” at the Enterprise Data and BI conference in November.  Not making allies of your BI Team is a mistake that many organisations make when they attempt to implement data governance.  After all this team should be strong supporters of your initiative, as it should free up their time so they can spend longer doing what they do best.

Sadly this is just one of many mistakes that are frequently made when organisations implement data governance.  If you want to learn what the nine biggest mistakes that companies make when implementing data governance are (and how to avoid them) you can visit my website to download a free report.

Author: Nicola Askham,

Nicola will be speaking on this subject at the Enterprise Data
and BI  Conference Europe 2015, 2-5 November, London

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