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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Five Whiskies in a Hotel

Key questions to get you started with Data Governance.

A "foreign" colleague of mine once told me a trick his English language teacher taught him to help him remember the "questioning words" in English. (To the British, anyone who is a non-native speaker of English is "foreign." I should also add that as a Scotsman, English is effectively my second language...). 

"Five Whiskies in a Hotel" is the clue - i.e. five questioning words begin with "W" (Who, What, When, Why, Where), with one beginning with "H" (How).

These simple question words give us a great entry point when we are trying to capture the initial set of issues and concerns around data governance - what questions are important/need to be asked.
  • What data/information do you want? (What inputs? What outputs? What tests/measures/criteria will be applied to confirm whether the data is fit for purpose or not?)
  • Why do you want it? (What outcomes do you hope to achieve? Does the data being requested actually support those questions & outcome? Consider Efficiency/Effectiveness/Risk Mitigation drivers for benefit.)
  • When is the information required? (When is it first required? How frequently? Particular events?)
  • Who is involved? (Who is the information for? Who has rights to see the data? Who is it being provided by? Who is ultimately accountable for the data - both contents and definitions? Consider multiple stakeholder groups in both recipients and providers)
  • Where is the data to reside? (Where is it originating form? Where is it going to?)
  • How will it be shared? (How will the mechanisms/methods work to collect/collate/integrate/store/disseminate/access/archive the data? How should it be structured & formatted? Consider Systems, Processes and Human methods.)

Clearly, each question can generate multiple answers!

Aside: in the Doric dialect of North-East of Scotland where I originally hail from, all the "question" words begin with "F":
  • Fit...? (What?) e.g. "Fit dis yon feel loon wint?" (What does that silly chap want?)
  • Fit wye...? (Why?) e.g. "Fit wye div ye wint a'thin'?" (Why do you want everything?)
  • Fan...? (When?) e.g. "Fan div ye wint it?" (When you you want it?)
  • Fa...? (Who?) e.g. "Fa div I gie 'is tae?" (Who do I give this to?)
  • Far...? (Where?) e.g. "Far aboots dis yon thingumyjig ging?" (Where exactly does that item go?)
  • Foo...? (How?) e.g. "Foo div ye expect me tae dae it by 'e morn?" (How do you expect me to do it by tomorrow?)

Whatever your native language, these key questions should get the conversation started...

Remember too, the homily by Rudyard Kipling:

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