How to pitch Data Governance to your Executives

11 Nov, 2022 •


Let’s be honest. No one other than the Data Governance team gives two hoots about Data Governance. Because the perception is that Data Governance is about controls and policing, which it is not. Therefore, it is hard to convince executives why they should sponsor a Data Governance program. You, as a Chief Data Officers or a Data Governance leader might be struggling to put together a convincing Data Governance business case in front of the stakeholders and sponsors. In this article we provide you some essential tips and suggestions to make a lower effort, more powerful pitch about data governance to your executives and get their buy-in.  

Below are typical activities that you might be considering to build your Data Governance business case.  We have placed them on a 2 x 2 matrix of Effort vs Impact required.

data governance impact and effort matrix

Of course, you would want to pick the activities that require low effort and have high impact. We suggest incorporating these 4 elements in your pitch.

  1. Driving urgency with alignment to ongoing business initiatives⏰ 
  1. Educating with anecdotes and examples ????‍???? 
  1. Build Influencers and Champions in business ????‍???? 
  1. Show the dollars ???????????? 

Driving urgency with alignment to ongoing business initiatives 

More likely than not, there is already a digital transformation driven initiative going on in your organization. It could be data modernization, migration to cloud, implementing a new data and analytics platform, a data literacy initiative. Align the value of Data Governance to these initiatives. Why? Because the business is already investing into data capabilities and if you can show the complimentary value of Data Governance to these initiatives, it is much easier sell. Below are some example value propositions.  

  • Data Modernization and Migration to cloud: Data Governance enabled through a Data Catalog can help create an inventory of legacy data that can prioritize what data needs to be migrated. Data Governance capabilities on Data Quality will ensure we manage and maintain high-quality data. 
  • Data & Analytics Platform: Data Governance’s focus on Metadata and Data Quality will help improve the documentation and quality of data. This, in turn will improve analyst productivity, trust in data, and drive more self-service, 
  • Data Literacy & Data-driven culture:  Data Governance’s Catalog capabilities can allow non-technical users to discover and understand data and get basic insights. This will drive data self-service and increase trust and literacy in data to drive more and faster data-driven decisions 

Educating with anecdotes and examples ????‍????

You realize that the first step in pitching Data Governance is awareness and education about what it is. You might be considering doing it in form of Data Governance training, bringing in external consultants. These are good, but they are too theoretical and too Data Governance centric. A more effective approach is education with real examples that are relatable with the audience. Use anecdotes of problems that occurred in the past that could have been avoided if Data Governance was in place. 

Some examples could be:

  • Recollection of a data quality problem that had a significant impact to business operations. Root-cause of that problem was the fact that people and systems did not catch bad data that was being entered. Data Governance capabilities on Data Quality will be putting in process in place that will detect data quality issues automatically on a regular basis and alert users for any critical exceptions, so they can be caught in advance. 
  • Recollection of a pain point where a critical data request or a report was delayed by the IT or Analytics team. The root cause was that the analytics team was dependent on Data Engineering to find where the data was and the back and forth with the subject matter experts to understand the data.  Data Governance capabilities on metadata enrichment and enabling a Catalog will reduce the time in data discovery and understanding, which will improve analyst productivity and improve speed and efficiency. Here is an article that expands this approach further with the story of Mary. 

Build Influencers and Champions????‍????

The best way to pitch Data Governance is if you have someone from user community do it. To do that, you need to convert disinterested or skeptical users into champions and influencers who will do the bidding for you. Here are few suggestions on how this can be done:

  • Instead of creating your point of view of what Data Governance can do, you validate how DG can help make their job easier. 
  • Show them how Data Governance will be embedded strategically into their business process so it is seamless and will not necessarily add to their workload. 
  • There is no substitute for showing them the benefit. A proof-of-concept with real production data is a powerful way to showcase that value. However, Proof-of-Concepts can become a project by itself requiring investment of time, if not money. Look for Data Governance tools, like DvSum, that offer free trials, are subscription based, and are easy to setup and use.  
whitepaper featured image

Get a list of key features that you should include in any proof-of-concept or showcase that you build for Data Governance

Show the Dollars ????????????

Executives see any cost as an investment. Dollarizing the impact of Data Governance is a powerful way to communicate its value.  Of course, it is not straight forward. What is value of good metadata? What is the value of high quality data. What is the value of compliant data ? The trick here is to not get to an accurate number, but show the value in orders of magnitude. Below are 3 value buckets to consider. 

$$ Cost of poor data quality 

$$ = Productivity gain from reduced time for data discovery and reconciliation 

Intangible gains = increased business agility, faster time to market for new products etc. 

You can use the customised DvSum ROI Calculator to get some ideas 

dvsum roi calculator

Below is an example of value buckets and calculations to show the dollarized value of Data Quality initiative.  

data governance positioning roi example dvsum


Building a business case for Data Governance is hard. A convincing and successful pitch requires an impacting way to build awareness, drive urgency, and showcase value. Using the 4 approaches described in this article can help you build that high impact pitch. 

Get more resources about how to launch a successful Data Governance program

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