Data Management Program for a Government Oversight Agency

CLIENT: Industry Oversight Organization (Government)

An administration and oversight body for a Canadian government with a staff between 200 and 500, embarked on a multi-year transformational exercise with Data Management at its core.

In 2012, upon recognizing capability gaps in the processes by which the agency regulates, the agency’s incoming Chief Executive set the strategic goal of delivering evidence-based regulation by becoming data driven. In 2015, a CIO was hired with a broad mandate of leading the transformational journey in the form of a Data Management Program (DMP). The DMP aims to add empirical information from a substantial inventory of external sources to the deep expertise of individual agency staff.

QUICK FACTS

  • Budget: approx. C$1m
  • Resources: Adastra provided approx. 10 resources to support the project including Data Governance Lead, Business Analysts, Metadata Specialist, DQ Specialist, Architect, BI & ETL Developers, DBA, and QA Testers
  • Duration: 2 x 6 months
  • Environment: IBM Data Stage, Information Governance Catalog, Information Analyzer

Challenges

Over time, the agency developed in a siloed fashion, with divisions that did not share information on a regular basis.  While this is inherent to the agency’s highly specialized activities, and also to some extent dictated by legislation, it resulted in a fragmented organization and culture.  Across the divisions, definitions of core business concepts were fuzzy, hotly debated over and over again, draining organizational energy and wasting time. Moreover, the agency had few useful data points related to tracking of its own performance.

The agency’s IT Department was small, operationally focused, with a ‘lights on’, database/application support focus.  No formal SDLC process was in place, and knowledge of state-of-the-art IM techniques was minimal.

In summary, the current state was a greenfield for introducing EIM. More broadly, agency top management expressed a readiness and desire for change. While the strategic objective of becoming data driven was well understood, agency executives had little understanding of what this might mean for the Agency.

Presented with a Data Management Program Roadmap spanning 33 separate initiatives over multiple years, the Executive Committee approved the Program. However, given the number of foundational activities and interdependencies, Executives had trouble understanding the Program’s component parts, and delivery of major business value was still years out.  When Adastra joined the effort, the overriding Executive questions were “what does this all mean and when will I see something?”

Scope

The agency engaged Adastra in 2016 to deliver a complex, multi-stream set of DMP initiatives, both technical and organizational, including:

  • Building an EIM Roadmap,
  • Developing an agency Enterprise Data Model,
  • Designing and building out Data Governance capabilities,
  • Piloting Metadata Management and Data Quality processes, and
  • Building an EDW Proof of Concept.

Approach and Benefits

Adastra guided the project by developing an enterprise data model showing the agency's core business entities and how they interacted. To overcome technophobia among executives, we relabelled data domains as "subject areas" and "buckets" in order to provide a shared language for subsequent discussions. Using buckets called "Party" and "Event" we demonstrated that the organization could achieve a 360-degree view of all the companies followed and regulated by the agency. The enterprise-level thinking enabled by this model helped the organization to ask, and answer new questions in line with strategic goals.

Proofs of Concept and pilot projects were developed using these buckets via a Data Governance Committee that brought together stakeholders from all divisions of the organization to represent their division interests, and to evangelize the new concepts and language back to their divisions. A Data Governance framework was developed to move the organization forward, using clear, and now widely shared, concepts and goals.