The CDO's Guide to Data Governance Maturity Models

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A CDO's Guide to Data Governance Maturity Models

So what’s the big deal with Maturity Models for Data Governance and why should the Chief Data Officer (CDO) care? Our friends at Gartner have recently pointed out that in some cases, a Maturity Model is only a consulting tool primarily used for selling services. They are correct! Some services organizations rely on selling fear, uncertainty, and doubt and do use a cliched maturity model to do so.

There is no direct connection between business value and a maturity model or level of maturity. In fact, a successful organization can both increase and decrease their maturity through a period of high value delivery. Maturity is actually an evolving state. For example, imagine a successful organization that achieves both business value and trust in data. Their confidence in data is recognized as a mature competitive advantage. But it is also an indicator of a company that is poised for an acquisition. An acquisition will disrupt their ability to govern and manage data to the same level of execution thereby reducing their maturity.

Business value and the value management discipline are not easily reflected in the configuration of a data governance maturity model. However, business value is often a snapshot view like a financial balance sheet, and the role of the Chief Data Officer is to steer the course of data and information management efforts to the align the long-term future value opportunities with a steady path of progress. The CDO in short has to think way beyond the snapshot of where are they today on the balance sheet because the same disclaimer follows all financial reports and statements will be applied to the CDO’s successes as well… “past performance is not a guarantee of future success.”

Maturity Models in Data Governance can be an effective tool for an organization to leverage for three distinct things that have relevance to the CDO.

1) Matching up Against Peer Capabilities. Running an organization that is building capabilities with an expected value-based outcome can create tunnel vision around specific MBO’s. It’s important to have reference points that allow the organization to assess practices in the industry or among peers (industry or otherwise) that may allow further rationalization of tools, skills or organizational roles. The maturity model doesn’t provide a plan, but it does provide a set of reference points for comparing angles of attack on the problems and stay in tune with an evolving set of practices.

2) Providing a Vision for Long-Term Capabilities. Although the CDO is aligned to strategic initiatives and metrics on the 12-month cycle, the case for having a CDO is based on the sum of the parts exceeding the whole. The CDO isn’t empowered to spend more on data. He/she is tasked with spending smarter on data. There has to be a mechanism for explaining how separate efforts are organized to build toward a common enterprise vision that serves the MBO’s in addition to preparing for future demands. At least once every twelve months the question will come up - “How does this get us to the real-time enterprise?” The CDO typically needs a maturity view to organize the response to this vision in a comprehensive way.

3) Generating a View of Historical Progress. Again most of the organization’s compass is and should be centered on demonstrating business value, but for the full-time team that is attached to the Data and Analytics functions around data governance, they need to have a means for discussing group identity, personal growth and promotion. They need to know that their efforts not only contributed to the company value but they have built “something” that is sustainable. Maturity models for governance can satisfy a significant part of this introspection around organizational achievement, and calming the troops when an acquisition disrupts their ability to consistently apply data governance and manage the data.


DATUM DMO Maturity Model DATUM's DMO Maturity Scale helps clients match up against peer capabilities.

The CDO can leverage a maturity model to rally the team, orchestrate the vision and to pull a fledgling data governance program through some challenging questions of identity and purpose. The use of the maturity model will likely stay exclusively within the office of the CDO and the fulltime members of the data organization. This is part of the reason a data governance maturity model doesn’t support a good consulting sales tactic. We often explain to the CDO and the data governance team that the maturity model can only really be successful if they are prepared to repeatedly perform self-assessments on roughly an 18 month cycle. This is the kind of training and enablement that puts companies one step ahead.

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