We spoke to Lisa Zavaroni, Data Governance Lead to find out why data governance is so important.

What is Data Governance and why is it so important at MetLife Australia?

Like most companies, the Data Governance team at MetLife Australia manages the availability, useability, and integrity of data. Data governance gives us a comprehensive framework for better accountability, transparency, confidence, and efficiency in the management of critical data, which is the foundation of our analytics and reporting.

With a sound data governance program in place we get a better view of overall data assets and risk exposures. This means more accurate reporting, increased revenue, cost savings, improved customer service, increased operational efficiency and increased ability to meet regulatory requirements.

What are the benefits of data governance?

There are many benefits of data governance, some more obvious that others; a culture of data accountability and ownership, measurable improvement and confidence in the quality of our data, reduced data detective work, more time freed up for value-added activities, faster data issue resolution, and embedded data driven decision-making.

What are the key contributors to making data governance work?

Data governance initiatives need to be prioritised based on business needs; keep it simple and make sure that all tasks add value. Don’t force added steps into otherwise simple processes, implement with a focus on areas you can make the most impact. Remember to be flexible as “one size fits all” doesn’t work when it comes to data governance – it needs to be fit for purpose. Make it too difficult and people will circumvent it; make it customisable and people will have a sense of ownership.

Remember compliance is key, so ensure you have the right controls in place to protect data. Data Privacy and Data Security is not a matter to be taken lightly, just because it doesn’t have personally identifiable information (PII) doesn’t mean the data is not sensitive. Put in place audits and metrics to continually monitor and evaluate to improve your data governance program. Think about how progress will be measured and how you can take a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one.

Who needs to be involved in Data Governance?

Everyone! Data governance really is everyone’s responsibility. After all, we all work with data; it’s used by so many parts of the business; Pricing, Products, Performance, Marketing, Sales, Actuarial, HR, etc. Our business is driven by data, and the quality and its integrity is vitally important.

Finally, what are the disruptors to data governance and how can they be managed?

There are three key things that can disrupt data governance:

  1. Not dealing with change management - If data governance is to be successful, business and IT processes need to change, and do this successfully, change management principles need to be applied. Without robust change management process in place, there is sure to be resistance to change and this can become a major road block.
  2. Not building sustainable and ongoing processes -  Even if the initial commitment of time, money and people is invested, many don’t think about the future resource requirements of sustaining the governance efforts over the long haul.
  3. Trying to solve all of an organisation’s data problems at once – This is a significant trap that many data governance programs fall into and a case which requires an organisation to “think globally and act locally.” In other words, data problems need to be broken down into incremental deliverables based on business needs – taking a  “too big, too fast” is a sure recipe for disaster.