Expanding Globally with Enterprise Data Governance

By Rob Stowell on Jul 20, 2021

As restrictions ease and the world reopens, many companies are revisiting plans for global expansion. There’s much to consider — from navigating translations and disparate data formats to ensuring brand consistency (while recognizing cultural nuances). This is where Enterprise Data Governance comes into play.

In this final installment of our How to Expand in 2021 series, we’ll look at how siloed data hinders companies from going global — and steps you can take to get on the right track.

The Problem: Few Commonalities

Every region offers unique opportunities. However, a lack of commonalities can lead to costly oversights and errors.

For example, a manufacturing company with operations across the globe could have disparate systems, processes, data formats, and languages. Without consistent data — accessible by every region and line of business — the company may continue manufacturing items, even though they have an excess of stock sitting in a warehouse. Duplicate efforts in manufacturing often result in sizable and unnecessary supply chain costs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

How to Gain Governance Without Losing Autonomy

To overcome these issues, you need data governance that reaches across the enterprise.

A wise first step is to define a data strategy, supported by centralized data management — like Product Information Management (PIM) or Master Data Management (MDM). One major benefit of implementing MDM is how it facilitates data governance, including defining:

  1. Who has the authority to make decisions
  2. How you will execute those decisions

Effective data governance allows you to distribute that information where it’s needed, account for local concerns, and give regions the ability to create the information they need to drive their go-to-market strategy. It isn’t about exhaustive rulemaking. Instead, it should serve the interests of all stakeholders.

So, why do regional stakeholders often fear its intrusion?

They want to cater to the needs of their market.

When local parties raise concerns about information differences across business units or countries, the real issue is typically content, not data. A good example is product dimensions. Whether a company uses imperial units (like in the U.S.) or metric units, the way dimensions are measured should be consistent — and managed at the global level.

That data, when properly governed through an MDM, will act as an authoritative, accurate source of product information. And when the data needs to be distributed for local consumption, the MDM system can easily convert it to the appropriate content (product dimensions in imperial or metric measurements) each market needs.

They are concerned about regulatory compliance.

Different countries obviously have different laws and regulations. So, shouldn’t the compliance process be handled locally?

The answer is yes — but you shouldn’t need to customize your overall process in each region to stay compliant. The process for how you manage data in Europe doesn’t need to differ from your process in the U.S. simply because the regions have different regulations. When you have established data governance processes, regulatory compliance review is just one step in the process. The content may be different, but the steps in your overall onboarding process remain the same.

In both instances, understanding the nuances of data vs. content — and how a global approach will benefit local efforts — can help get all stakeholders on board.

3 Ways to Get an International Enterprise Data Governance Rollout Started

Creating good data governance practices that support global expansion doesn’t happen overnight. But by following these three steps, you can lay a strong foundation.

1. Start with global standards and processes, then localize where necessary.

When it comes to the data itself, as well as your data governance processes, it’s important to keep the overall process of data management centralized and standardized at the enterprise level.

For example, your product data may need to be translated or converted into imperial or metric units — but, ideally, that occurs after the data is pulled from the central data hub. From there, each region can apply localized content, such as romance copy, to target their specific market.

Similarly, you can set your governance processes at the global level, then apply those standards to different regions where the local business can make changes where necessary.

2. Emphasize change management at every level.

Involving key stakeholders and getting their support is crucial to the process. When developing global standards, executive sponsorship is key. You’ll also need stakeholder support at the local level once you roll out to all the regions.

3. Don’t build around exceptions — manage them.

When building out your processes, you’ll want to establish a system that works globally, then deal with exceptions when you encounter them. Many companies make the mistake of designing an entire solution around exceptions, which doesn’t adequately serve the global organization.

Help to Expand Across the Globe

Successful geographic expansion can be a big win for your company, but managing your data through the process is essential. You’ll need a versatile PIM or MDM solution and a team to guide you through the inevitable ups and downs.

Winshuttle EnterWorks provides the scalable data hub (for PIM and multiple data domains) that you’ll need to expand into new products, markets, and geographies. Joined with Pivotree’s MDM expertise, you’ll have a combination that has helped over 30 joint manufacturing customers master their data and move forward with confidence.

To learn more, download our Joint Solution Overview here.

Did you miss a post in our series? Get our tips on How to Expand in 2021Product Expansion, and Market Expansion.

About the author

Rob Stowell

Rob has over 20 years of experience in helping customers unlock the value of their enterprise information. As Director of MDM at Pivotree, Rob has worked with multiple data domains and with the majority of MDM solutions on the market. He is a member of Pivotree’s MDM Advisory Team- dealing directly with clients to create strategies and solutions around Master Data, Data Governance, and Vendor Collaboration.

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