How To Solve The Stakeholder Buy-In Problem For Your Data Intelligence Initiatives

How To Solve The Stakeholder Buy-In Problem For Your Data Intelligence Initiatives

August 9, 2022

Data intelligence, like most activities at an organization, is an ongoing activity. Like many things you do day-to-day, it compounds with time. The more data you collect and use, the more intuitive the process becomes to those involved. Putting it in simple terms, it gets better with age.   

However, the initiation of a solid data governance strategy can be the first, and sometimes the last, hurdle. For some organizations, they can’t see past this initial phase and simply walk away, never fully experiencing the benefits of organization-wide data intelligence. It takes multiple departments, with multiple stakeholders, all seeing the same picture simultaneously.  

It’s a synchronicity that some organizations cannot realize, but for those who do, rewards abound. It begs the question; why do some businesses fail to launch a data governance initiative?  

Truth be told, it’s a long list.   

At the top of this list is stakeholder buy-in. When stakeholders can’t quantify the benefits of an initiative, agreements can’t be made. This agreement is the cornerstone of the initiative. Without it, everything else falters. Even when an agreement is reached and the data governance initiative is started, it can be abandoned if:  

  • Too many departments inundate the system with data, making clarity far more difficult than it should be. It’s best to start slowly and build up to an organization-wide initiative  
  • You don’t know why you’re doing it. Ask yourself; why are we doing this? The answer would be intrinsic and internal to your organization. It shouldn’t be because of external pressure.  

Data governance should be about enabling access to data, helping solve problems with data, helping protect data, and helping discover new insights. The key word here is help. This initiative must help every stakeholder and the people they are responsible for.   

To gain organizational buy-in, we must make sure that every stakeholder knows this initiative is here to help.   

To help you, here are some reasons we think organizations set aside data governance plans.   

1: Lack Of Scope Clarity  

With multiple stakeholders in multiple departments, it’s easy for scope creep to embed itself into the initiative. Start small, understand that it’s better to have one department trial the data governance initiative, then roll it out gradually. When everyone agrees, and the departments are comfortable, the initiative can be rolled out. Perhaps focus your first efforts on the data system inventory. It’s definable, accessible and let’s everyone see immediately what this new “data governance initiative” is doing. Not just at department level, but from an organizational perspective.  

2: Not Understanding It Takes Time  

Data governance isn’t a quick fix, it’s a process, and like all processes, it will take time and effort to get it right. NOW Privacy is the most effortless, seamless solution on the market, but it still requires human effort. Admit this up front and everything will be fine. Your employee’s data governance responsibilities should not be at the detriment of their regular daily tasks. You’ll need to schedule time, carve out opportunities in their working day and encourage them to build a data governance initiative that works for everyone.   

3: Forgetting That Collaboration Is Key  

It’s not unusual for a data governance initiative to involve departments that seldom work together, sometimes, departments that don’t work well together. Seeking individuals from every corner of your organization and tying them into this initiative is vital to its success. Even parts of the organization that are usually overlooked or just run as a background process, they need to be included. Whether you run this initiative as a top-down policy or allow trusted members within the team to run with it and see what it can achieve, it’s important that all members are included. Inclusiveness is important, even with data governance.   

4: Failure To Meet Expectations  

It takes people for data intelligence to work. Don’t promise them something the system can’t deliver. The best policy is to involve the pioneers, the organizational individuals who love challenges and “new things”. Bring them to the table first. They’ll act as champions for the cause to the other employees who are more reluctant. Forcing people into the initiative is a good way to alienate them. Provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Once they see others getting results, they’ll be more inclined to try it out.   

5: Forgetting That Goals Come First  

As with anything you do in your organization, goals come first. As we mentioned above, knowing your why is the catalyst to get started. Digging deeper and understanding the step-by-step goals is the groundwork everything else sits on. Call them goals, call them OKRs. The main thing is to have them set in stone before anything else happens. The worst-case scenario is that your data governance initiative becomes yet another proverbial “dusty book on a shelf”. Success is based upon real world achievements, not hypothetical discussions.   


Start small, use real-world examples of how the data intelligence initiative can help every department, then allow stakeholders to collaborate. This is the best way to ensure your data governance best practices work long term.


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