What is Gap Analysis, and why does the Iron Carrot Data Governance Roadmap process have one?

What is a gap analysis?

A gap analysis assesses the differences between an organisation’s actual and expected (or desired) performance. The term “gap” refers to the space between “where you are”  – the present state, and “where you want to be” – the target or future state.

Some consultants refer to a gap analysis as a needs analysis, needs assessment, or need-gap analysis. Gap analysis is usually done at the strategic or operational levels, depending on the goals and objectives of the organisation.

Advantages of a gap analysis

You can see the whole picture

When decision-makers have a comprehensive overview of the entire firm or a particular capability like data governance, they can better determine whether your firm has the resources to meet its data vision, goals, and objectives. This overview helps the firm analyse the factors that led to the current situation and outline the data governance foundation needed to move forward.

Priorities can be established

A gap analysis can help the firm focus efforts and make informed decisions about what to do next. A clear understanding of what is required to reach the future target state makes it easier to formulate plans. This, in turn, means that allocating resources appropriately to achieve the identified data governance objectives is easier.

Disadvantages of a gap analysis

Time and cost 

Typically, a firm will bring in a consultant to perform the assessment, which is a cost. This will still require the participation of employees who may need to step away from their day jobs to participate in the project. A crucial part of a data governance business case needs to articulate the benefits of investing in this activity.

Unnecessary Fear

An unfortunate consequence of bringing in a consultant to conduct a gap analysis is the apprehension and suspicion that impacts team morale and engagement with the process. This is particularly true of a data governance gap analysis where you are looking at roles and skill sets. Effective and inclusive communications about the purpose of the gap analysis can mitigate this. You need to reinforce the value that people can bring, lending their expertise to the gap analysis workstreams.  It also helps to communicate the recognition and support that can come from highlighting their team’s data governance activities that other functions (or senior leadership) might not know about.

Why is this an essential part of establishing data governance?

If used correctly, a gap analysis can be applied to a wide variety of situations that a law firm wants to improve. It is vital for law firm leaders who want to make plans months and years into the future since a well-done gap analysis can increase your firm’s success.

A data governance gap analysis can help your firm identify gaps from various perspectives, including skills, business processes, information technology or organization-wide performance. Like most evaluations, the gap analysis process entails assessing and documenting the findings. For the gap analysis process to be successful,  your firm must first acknowledge and approve the differences between the company’s future needs and current competencies.

Who needs to create a data governance gap analysis?

Adopting a data governance framework is an organisational behaviour change, often supported by creating a new Centre of Excellence or operational capability. 

Most law firms already have the people, processes, skills, and knowledge to implement data governance. These are often found in pieces across different business services or operational teams, so it can be challenging to know where to start. A gap analysis can help you prioritise the actions needed to complete the foundations of your data governance framework successfully. 

What are the steps required to create a data governance gap analysis?

Assess Your Current State

The first step in conducting a gap analysis is to assess the firm’s current state of data governance, including people, processes, and documentation.

In parallel to any workshops and listening events you plan, use what you know about how your law firm works to dig around for examples of written-down stakeholder accountabilities and other core documentation so you can undertake your gap analysis.  Some business services functions will have some fundamentals, like data glossaries, data dictionaries and data lineage with the business process). Still, they might be localised, fragmented, and not joined up with other functions. 

Articulate where you want to be (future state)

Data Governance initiatives aren’t mushrooms – they don’t just appear. A list of drivers from the business case will help you get started. Work with your senior stakeholders to figure out a simple statement explaining what data governance can do for your firm.

Involve all stakeholders in workshops and other activities to identify the tangible, prioritised goals the firm must achieve to realise that vision. It can help group these goals under themes matching that strategy.

Identify Gaps

If the pictures of your current and future states are straightforward and clear, you should find it relatively simple to list gaps in roles, activities, and documentation. Play this list back to your stakeholders to help inform their thinking and reinforce the benefits of Data Governance.  Use what you find to help you shape the roles and responsibilities of members of the data governance framework groups to meet the firm’s exact requirements.

Devise a Plan to Close the Gaps

The last step is to use that list to establish and agree on Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals, which will close the gaps you have identified. Combining a prioritised list of tasks and your data governance framework implementation plan gives you a set of steps to help you achieve your objectives. This is your Data Governance Foundation Roadmap.

Summing up and next steps

Summary of steps

Finding out what you already have and articulating your Vision and Goals helps you create a Gap Analysis document setting out the differences (or gaps) between where you are and where you want to be.  Prioritising and scheduling how to fill these gaps becomes your Data Governance Foundation Roadmap.

Would you like some help with data governance at your organisation?

We have developed a unique data governance road-mapping solution to help business leaders launch the proper foundation for data governance through our extensive data governance and information management background.

Our five-step road mapping process quickly helps law firms create a complete framework and plan for assuring the governance and quality of its data to realise the strategic goals.