Your Data Governance Roadmap – Is Your Firm Ready?

The space between roadmap creation and execution

Roadmaps are the output of a strategic planning process. Execution is getting on and doing it. The less talked about but critically important step is what happens in between these two stages.

Starting an implementation is where a data governance lead can become overwhelmed. Senior stakeholders either underestimate the amount of work or assume that the data governance lead can deliver everything by themselves. 

The data governance roadmap will include creating the teams and their communication mechanisms that will build your firm’s data governance framework.

But there are also lots of things that can be done in advance to help set your data governance lead up for success.

Leadership engagement

A large part of successfully landing a change depends on the leadership’s active participation in supporting, equipping, and preparing people to deliver change. There are simple communication messages that you can encourage leaders to cascade to their teams, even at this early stage, which will help set the scene and lay the groundwork for formal communication and change plans when they are ready to launch.

Assessing the firm’s readiness for change

Just because the firm’s Executives have bought into the need for the creation of a data governance capability and the behavioural changes in firmwide data management that this capability will lead doesn’t mean that success is guaranteed.

It is important to assess the firm’s readiness for change before embarking on a significant change effort. If the firm isn’t ready, you will run the risk of imposing change on teams that are unwilling or unable to adopt it.

The data governance lead can use this assessment of where change needs to be made and what gaps they need to fill to better estimate the time, resources, and effort required to succeed.

How do you assess readiness?

A good readiness assessment collects data and evaluates several key elements:

Leadership’s capacity to lead the change:

Does firm leadership generally, and the data governance sponsor specifically, have the credibility, knowledge, and skills to support the new data governance framework?

The rest of the firm will make this judgement early on, and if they believe the leadership is lacking, they will be unlikely to accept the data governance framework and participate in making it a success.

Management’s capacity for change:

Are people managers supportive, enthusiastic and energised about the data governance framework?

People managers play such a key role as the conduit for information, feedback, and addressing resistance that you need to have confidence that they understand and are willing to support the data governance framework. If not, they will be a key barrier and significantly impact your chances of success.

The firm’s history with change:

Have previous change efforts been unsuccessful or taken a long time to realise their benefits? What was the manner in which these efforts were implemented – did they focus on changes to individual roles?

When most of the previous change hasn’t landed well, it could indicate that the firm isn’t ready to accept new change. Alternatively, it can flush out a list of lessons learned so that this change has a better chance of success.

Urgency for the change:

Are people aware of the need for change, and do they buy into the case for the data governance framework to be created now?

If the groundwork of awareness communication hasn’t been laid, then it’s easy for people to decide that data governance doesn’t fit into their priorities. They will either actively (and vocally) resist or passively (and silently) choose not to participate in the framework.

Capacity for change:

Each person in the firm will make their own assessment of their capacity for change. The best you can do is understand if:

  • They are over-tasked with daily operational activities.
  • They feel that they have the skills, time, and resources to make change.
  • They are already overwhelmed by changes already in progress, so don’t have the emotional and mental bandwidth needed for additional change.

The Impact of the change:

If you’ve followed the steps in the Iron Carrot Foundation Roadmap creation process, you will have a good understanding of your current and future states. But if you have focussed solely on the future state, now is the time to figure out your current state.

It is the understanding of the gap between current and future states that enables you to have a better picture of the changes that are needed and how they will impact people’s daily work. If you cannot share this picture as part of your communications plan, people will assess this gap for themselves and, in the absence of concrete information, will jump to conclusions, participate in rumours, or choose not to engage with the change.

Purpose of change:

Can you clearly and simply articulate how the data governance framework is in the interest of the firm and of each team/individual?

It is an unfortunate reality that if a change doesn’t support a person’s goals and needs, they will probably not make it a priority. Everyone needs to be confident that the data governance framework will help them to fulfil their role within the firm.

This is often referred to as the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) statement. The purpose of the data governance framework needs to be clear, compelling and communicated at an individual level – if it isn’t, then it is unlikely that the firm will be ready to adopt it.

What if we leave this assessment to the data governance lead?

That’s a fair question, and some firms do have an assessment of readiness for change as one of the data governance lead’s first activities. But you should be ready to accept that this will push the timetable for effectively delivering your data governance framework out by at least a couple of months.

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.

Book a call with us to find out more.