In defining your data quality, the ‘political’ aspect is as big a challenge as anything technical.
If we exclude religious figures, arguably the greatest inventor (and human ahead of their time) was a Greek chap called Hero, who lived in the colony of Alexandria in Egypt around the time of Jesus. He would be called a Polymath these days as he invented — or at least properly defined — many things (wind powered machinery included). In my mind, the most incredible of these was the Aeolipile.
What is this? A steam engine.
Yes, this man invented the industrial revolution 1,700 years before our friend Mr Watt. What did he do with this epoch-changing wonder? Did he transform the plight of manual labour for the Greek nation and Western Civilisation? Umm, no.
He made a desk toy…
The audience and the political climate just weren’t ready and/or willing for what he had to offer. Arguably, even he didn’t grasp what had been produced. So, if you’re looking to define your data quality, it’s possible the most important challenge you’ll need to overcome is the “political” aspect of what data is being defined. (After you’ve overcome your own weaknesses — but that’s a blog for another day!)
Are my (metaphorical) inferiors and superiors ready for what I am proposing? What should I do to get buy-in? What boundaries are there? What measurements are appropriate at what times?
To answer these questions, as always, we need to break down our challenge into manageable chunks.
First – what are you trying to achieve?
What are your business and/or political objectives? Are they Internal and/or external?
You may be able to technically gather and process this data, but at what cost? Financial, human, etc.
Are you and your whole organisation ready to pay the price? You have checked this, haven’t you? And your objectives are specific, meaningful, realistic and measurable, aren’t they? And you do know which laws and regulations you’re complying with, don’t you? I’m sure you’ve got it covered..!
Second – what can you actually manage?
Or, what happens if this all works? You – or your management – may want to gather a whole host of information. But if you choose the wrong frequencies, you may be overwhelmed in terms of controlling the data. Are you gathering GDPR-relevant data which then requires a whole circus of performers to manage? You have checked this, haven’t you?!
Third – What will your bosses pay for?
Not only now, but also looking ahead – GRC requirements don’t go away. (And hopefully neither does your job! Keep reading these blogs if you want it to stay that way 😊 ). The more measurements you make, the more controls, the bigger the cost…
I am not suggesting that bigger is necessarily better, but when assessing the value of your CMDB for example, check the number of CIs. A particular project I was involved with started with 1.5 million CIs. As we processed through the requirements, this grew to 12 million and finally 60 million. This can really affect how you manage, handle and report on them.
Fourth – It’s all about the… timing.
Can you achieve what you need to achieve in the time allowed? What laws or internal policies are hot topics (or will be)? Are you ready to measure them by the time a policy or law becomes active? Good timing goes a long way to getting budget and sign-off!
- Beware the ‘J’ word; the “can I ‘just’ have this, and that, and the other, before I will sign off completion” type conversations. To prevent this, make sure you can demonstrate success versus your original political objectives – the “definition of done”.
- In case of success, will figures cause you or your boss to get fired? The truth can be very, very uncomfortable for some people, especially when they are highlighted for their failures. I was once in an organisation when the GRC figures came in for the first time, and they said, “these figures aren’t good, I need you to get me some new figures…”. Reality is very challenging for some people and organisations.
- Springboard – now that the tools and process are in, you need to look after them, nurture them and use them as the springboard for more efficiency and control and productivity and… don’t stop now!
Lastly – innovation. Make sure you follow good ideas through to their logical conclusion. Otherwise in 1,700 years, you could be an example of Hero to Zero too!