Critically acclaimed author highlights the vital link between business apps and data governance

Sunil Soares encourages information leaders to use business applications to highlight the value of trusted, secure data in your organization.

“When you are implementing a new application, make sure you have clearly defined projects around data quality and data integration.”

—Sunil Soares, founder and managing partner, Information Asset LLC, and critically acclaimed data governance author

Sunil Soares understands how important trusted, secure data is to the success of your company. As founder and managing partner of Information Asset LLC, he works with global clients to build out governance programs. In addition, he has written three critically acclaimed books about data governance and was director of information governance at IBM. Soares talked to Potential at Work about the intrinsic value of information to business applications and the convergence of business process management (BPM) and data management. He explains how you can increase the alignment between data initiatives and the business applications that depend on data.

How should information leaders partner with application leaders to increase the success of their data initiatives?

Soares: Data governance and BPM are increasingly going to converge. Information leaders and data stewards can fix data. But ultimately, there are business process challenges and application challenges that really impact the data.

For instance, although your MDM [master data management] hub can discover duplicates, you need to set up a policy that customer service representatives search for a customer name before creating a new customer record. However, they have to spend more time on the phone with a customer in order to do a search. If they are measured on operational metrics, they are going to be less inclined to spend extra time dealing with these data quality issues.

This is where you end up with misaligned priorities. If you are a data governance lead, you need to focus on improving the quality of your customer data. If you are in marketing, you want a single view of your customer. That’s the essence of good data governance. You have to start converging business process metrics with data governance metrics and MDM.

How can information leaders handle this convergence of applications and information?

Soares: One way is to identify data stewards within process domains. In manufacturing, for example, you can have stewards in key processes like order-to-cash or procure-to-pay. You can think about MDM tools also integrating with BPM. And when you are implementing a new application, make sure you have clearly defined requirements to support dependent data quality and data integration needs.

What are the risks of this convergence to the ultimate success of an information initiative?

Soares: The risk might be that you’re trying to boil the ocean. You solve that problem by targeting a few applications and focusing on critical attributes. If you are implementing SAP, you might focus on customer data. And you might say, “We really need to focus on the quality of our contact information, our ship-tos, sold-tos, and bill-tos. Those are critical to us.” Focusing on critical attributes as part of a broader application program, and then following data governance best practices around those critical attributes, will improve the likelihood of success.

To learn more, watch Informatica’s Rob Karel discuss “10 facets of data governance.”

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