Anarchy or the Rule of Law

AnarchyInvestment firms have invested heavily in the improvement of data quality, and in the last few years in creating a Data Governance office with a defined mission statement and governing principles to ensure the investment is sustained. Governance structures have been created, data committees and sub-committees appointed, and data owners and stewards activated.  

Governance initiatives have focused on defining data domains, inventorying data systems, and standardizing policies by which data is managed, accessed, and improved.  The effort to instill governance, operating models, and technology has produced tremendous value simply in the respect that knowledge of the firms’ data environment and culture has been obtained.  After the project work is complete, firms need to focus on enforcement and continuous improvement, which is where most firms fail.

As with any governance, there is some rule of law which needs to be enforced.  It is critical that the laws be enforced by trained and knowledgeable resources or risk anarchy in the ranks of the organization.  The data culture needs to be empowered with the correct tool sets so that data can be monitored, improved, and learned from while ongoing adherence to the policies governing the data need to be policed.  The rules that define how data users, owners, and stewards interact to identify and resolve data anomalies and exceptions in line with the overall governance framework is what prevents anarchy and ensures against degradation of the solutions so heavily invested in.  Empowered organizations who enforce the policies defined and enable changes to change the behavior and processes producing those exceptions, are those most likely to see long term returns on governance programs.

Most investment firms need to invest, in time and funds, in the infrastructure to support the well-defined mission statements and governing policies that are the foundation of the data governance office.  If the data policies and data standardization are not consistently monitored and enforced, this foundation may slowly erode over time.  While there are examples of firms that need more flexibility, this should also be part of a firm’s defined protocol.  Without a framework and follow-through, an asset manager may be face that old data adage of "garbage in, garbage out" the next time they attempt to implement a new system within the organization.