Information governance for BI projects

Cameron Johnson
January 11, 2016

It is vital that a common language or standard definition of business words is used across the organisation. I find an information governance group is one mechanism to overcome the challenges experienced with this. I would go so far as to say that such a forum is a prerequisite for enduring success in business intelligence (BI) environments. Why is this?

The information governance group cuts across the enterprise

The information governance group recognises that BI projects add value by integrating information from across the enterprise and as such this group draws on business functions or areas from across the organisation for membership.

The information governance group determines standard definitions

Defining a consistent meaning for a business concept is essential to the successful development of a project. Often BI projects add value by aggregating business information in a manner that the (operational) line of business systems cannot support. The governance group is absolutely positioned to agree these new hierarchies and to determine their point of intersection with common business structures.

The information governance group determines ownership

It comes as no surprise to find that information ownership is often unclear. To be fair, organisations have made great strides in this area over the last several years, especially in terms of assigning information owners at the line of business system level – however the world of BI presents its own challenges. Consider the previous point relating to hierarchies. It has been my experience that the greatest challenge when defining an alternate hierarchy is that business functions distance themselves from the content and/or results of these structures.

Functions are uncomfortable when management is able to view business operations from a lens that is different to their own, often siloed viewpoint. The governance group bring the parties together to define and agree ownership.

The information governance group provides a balanced view on the data lifecycle

A traditional data lifecycle encompasses the common concepts of data capture, data maintenance, enhancement of data (e.g. geo coding), the business use of the data and, towards the end of the lifecycle, the archiving and purge of data no longer required.

The focus on big data does not alter this fundamental dynamic although the data may well be archived from operational systems to an environment where it is still accessible to analytics processes. The information governance group has a key role to play in ensuring that decisions relating to the acquisition and retention of information are made with the broader organisation in mind.

As an aside the information governance group is also well placed to validate observance of key data standards in the context of BI data stores, for example PCI DSS (the Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard).

In summary, the information governance group is a vital enabler of successful BI projects. In my experience, organisations that sustain this forum reap the benefits of continuity and uniformity that a temporary project structure cannot deliver.

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Cameron Johnson
Cameron Johnson is a lead consultant with Ajilon Australia working with the company’s larger resource organisations.
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