Data Management: Heroic Efforts, Tribal Knowledge, and Luck

Mark McQueen
 – Founder and Principal Consultant, FutureDATA

Thinking Partners:

The Success

The daily data explosion is impacting businesses in every industry globally.

To stay competitive and exceed customer expectations organizations need the right data, in the right place, at the right time. Recognizing Data Management as a critical business capability is required.

Over the past ten years the common understanding of What Data Management is has been evolving and is now stabilizing into a defined set of capabilities. The Enterprise Data Management Council (EDM Council – an industry association founded to elevate the practice of Data Management as a business and operational priority) has developed the Data Management Capability Assessment Model (DCAM™).  DCAM™ is a tool that defines the What. While the tool is used for capability assessment, it contains an exhaustive set of requirement statements. These statements are requirements for the capabilities that should exist across six core Data Management capabilities in a comprehensive Data Management practice.  The six core capabilities are as follows.

  • Data Strategy – Defining the Data Management strategy that empowers a business to excel.
  • Data Program – Organizing the people and processes into sustainable execution routines.
  • Data Governance – Establishing the framework for controlling the data.
  • Data Content – Delivering the business process defined data meaning.
  • Data Quality – Validating the data is fit for its intended purposes.
  • Data Collaboration – Engaging all data ecosystem stakeholders to reconcile complex data requirements into a simple data set and technology platform.

Every day there are new examples of Data Management best practice in businesses across different industries. Due to regulatory mandates stemming from the 2008 global economic crises, the financial services industry is one of the leaders of best practice development.

The Problem

The problem is that these successes are the result of Heroic Efforts, Tribal Knowledge, or Luck.

Unfortunately, Heroic Efforts, Tribal Knowledge, and Luck are not repeatable, consistent, or sustainable.

  • Heroes burn out
  • Tribe members walk out the door
  • Luck produces inconsistent results
  • Heroes are hard to clone and not scalable
  • Tribes are small and local resulting in silos of success across the enterprise
  • New tribe members require long learning curves

To overcome these gaps in capability, businesses must apply the discipline of Business Process Management (BPM) to Data Management to deliver predictable outcomes. In essence, this is about mitigating risk to your organization by achieving sustainability and stability. The rigor of BPM enables a sustainable solution.  Heroes are valuable catalysts to cultural change but need organizational and process support to sustain the change.

The Opportunity

The capability requirements defined in DCAM™ are the foundation for formal Data Management business process design. The design process can be fast-tracked by leveraging best practices from industry practitioners.  Combining the foundation of requirements with best practices results in an intricate end-to-end process design across the six core capabilities of a Data Management program. (See FutureDATA Success Story 2: Core Capability Process Design.)

The EDM Council has established a Best Practice Program.  They began by creating a member vetted Business Glossary of standard Data Management terms.  The next phase is to collect industry best practices from member organizations across prioritized critical topics.  As this work evolves, it will become a source of lessons learned to feed into an individual organization’s process design and continuous improvement program. (See FutureDATA Success Story 1: Data Management Business Glossary.)

The Challenge

The financial services industry is one of the leaders of best practice development. Unfortunately, this leadership has largely been a tactical response to meeting near-term regulatory mandates.

The creation of data lineage by many organizations is an example of tactical execution that met the regulatory requirement but without any long lasting value. The specific regulation requiring data lineage was viewed as a stand-alone process – How do we check the box for this requirement? The approach to collect the data lineage was largely a manual brute force effort not integrated with a larger Data Management program or process. Because the activity was not integrated into a “business as usual” processes through an incorporation of the repeatable capabilities of the Data Management program, the lineage was immediately suspect of having become stale. Maintaining the data lineage through this tactical approach is cost prohibitive and unsustainable for repeat cycles.



Instead of viewing the regulation as a standalone process, the requirements in the legislation should integrate with the requirements of the Data Management capabilities, continuously improving the capabilities due to new requirements.  Then executing against the regulatory mandate becomes “business as usual” rather than a “war room” activity.

Recognizing the benefits of a predictable process to create data that is trusted requires a culture shift to demand a sustainable data culture. The discipline of Business Process Management will leverage people, process, data and technology in repeatable, consistent and sustainable Data Management processes. Embedding strategic data requirements into the business and technology processes will ensure that regulatory compliant Data Management is a natural outcome, rather than a tactical fire drill.

The culture shift to demand a sustainable data culture cannot ignore the regulatory mandates. The near-term tactical drivers must balance with the longer term strategic direction. To be successful both need to be addressed as part of any regulatory or mandated change.

The Benefit

The shift to a standard, consistent, repeatable, and sustainable data culture through the introduction of Business Process Management has many benefits.

  1. Managing data as an asset is critical to managing the business, meeting regulatory requirements, and most importantly, to innovation and providing differentiation for customers – data is the foundation for knowledge.
  2. Application of BPM results in transparent, consistent, repeatable, and high-performance processes.
  3. Integrating enterprise and regulatory requirements into the process design creates a transparent compliance audit trail.
  4. Adherence to an industry best practice framework minimizes the potential to overlook design requirements.
  5. Third party validation of the audit trail from the DCAM™ capability assessment.


The Process Design Framework below provides a logical method for building on the foundation provided by the DCAM™ requirements. This takes the What defined by the requirements and turns them into the How as executed through the processes. Additionally, this method creates a thread interwoven into the process design that serves as a compliance audit trail for internal control function and external regulatory requirements.

Process Design Framework


The discipline of Data Management has matured to the point that industry standard process design is possible. Introducing the discipline of Business Process Management to Data Management empowers an organization to effectively manage their data as a valued asset. This asset can be transformative for an organization in how they manage their business, meet regulatory requirements, and most importantly, how they innovate and differentiate for their customers.

Join the Conversation

Please provide your feedback on any points raised in this paper. Specifically, if you believe that you and your organization could benefit from engaging with other industry practitioners to share best practices and develop standard Data Management processes, we’d love to hear from you. Please be a thought leader and share your best practice for a sustainable data culture with industry standard process capabilities. Share this with other practitioners – let’s get the crowd moving.

The wisdom of many is greater than one.

About the Author

Mark is the founder and principal consultant of FutureDATA Consulting.  He is passionate about sustainable processes. During 20+ years at a Fortune 25 financial institution, he has witnessed the practice of Data Management take center stage in the C-suite. However, the derailers to success have been the lack of business accountability for the data and applying business process management discipline to the Data Management function (see Post: Derailers to Data Management Success).

FutureDATA is a network of highly experienced independent consultants. Our consulting services are DCAM™ Data Management capability assessment, capability process optimization, and capability execution based on the industry standard from Enterprise Data Management Council Data Management Capability Assessment Model (DCAM™). The capabilities include Data Strategy, Data Program, Data Governance, Data Content, Data Quality, and Data Collaboration.

FutureDATA is an Authorized DCAM™ Partner allowing us to leverage the industry standard DCAM™ tool set to build Data Management Capabilities with our clients. Additionally, we are contracted by the EDM Council supporting the implementation of their Best Practice Program.

We measure our success by empowering organizations with sustainable Data Management capabilities to deliver data as the foundation for knowledge, innovation, and competitive advantage.

Mark Thomas McQueen
FutureData Consulting, LLC
1+ 615.308.6465

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