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How to Sell, and Design, Information Stewardship to the Business

by Andrew White  |  November 28, 2012  |  3 Comments

A few months ago I came up with this idea of positioning to business users on how much time they should expect to give up to “do” information stewardship.  My ideas was to sell users on “13 minutes week – what your (business) data stewards should be doing”.  This was meant to be a simple way at looking at the following:

  • There are, in fact, many data stewards in most organizations.  We all know who they are.  They are Derek, or Sheila, who are those busy body power users that keep breaking the system and getting round gaps in the rules to get stuff done.
  • MDM focuses on how to standardize and formalize that work, and reduce the number of people actively setting, and enforcing (the right) policies
  • The resulting work will include two phases – policy setting/collection, and policy enforcement.  The former is typically about discover and documentation, with IT capturing the targets and future states, and trying to interpret the results in terms of business rules and scrips.  The latter is what your data stewards should be doing – solving the most complex problems related to data impacting business process outcomes that IT can no longer solve with any amount of additional IT investment.

Many companies were reporting, and continue to day, that making MDM “stick”, making it part of day to day work for line of business users, was proving very difficult.  One reason is that many organizations misunderstand what information stewardship should be about.  That is where the 13 minutes a week idea came from.  It should take no more than a few minutes of the normal working week for said business information stewards to solve the most complex problems related to data impacting important business outcomes.  It is not a full time job, it is a role that cannot be removed from line of business responsibility.

So there I was, yesterday, at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and integration Summit in Las Vegas, doing my presentation on MDM, and before my very eyes, I came up with the next sales pitch: 17 seconds a task.  This additional idea is simple too – IT needs to build this information stewardship application so that all acts, decisions, to-do’s, can be resolved in under 17 seconds.  The key design criterion is that the UI needs to be understandable, usable, even designed by the business user.  It should use English – not IT speak.    

The user I met at the end of day two at the summit said to me: “We have seen a demo of the data stewardship dashboard (not even an app, yet) from XXX and our business users said they can’t use it – they don’t understand all the screens.  Even me, in IT, struggled to keep up with the demo.”

So perhaps we should look at this as a design criterion – at least it’s a good one to get started.  The entire (business related) information stewardship workload should take no more than 13 minutes a week and any one problem solution should be executable in less than 17 seconds.  What do you think?  Doable?

Category: data-stewardship  information-governance  master-data-management  mdm-summit-na  

Tags: mdm-summit-na  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on How to Sell, and Design, Information Stewardship to the Business

  1. Luke Krishnan says:

    Andrew, I think it’s definitely achievable. But you need to do this progressively in small groups/business units to gain overall traction across the organisation. Much to the same intent, I have tried this approach for business processes with slow progress – not before investing months of convincing and breaking entrenched mindsets.

  2. Andrew White says:

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for the post.

    I think you are “spot on” in terms of the progressive process. It seems this is the best way for most organizations to make progress with this complex opportunity.

    I would say though that it does seem exceedingly slow, overall. Don’t you think? In many cases, progress is made in one area, only for that progress to be undone a year later due to an M&A or a change in leadership. But, over many years (I hate to say that), it does seem to make progress. It’s a bit like trying over and over; and finally some of it finally sticks. At least that is my observation at an aggregate level.


  3. Thanks for sharing this. I find this article very informative and i have learned a lot.

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