Recent posts


  • 8 Mar 2021 13:53 | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    Hi I'm Nicola Askham, one of the Directors for DAMA UK.  For the past two years I've been responsible for arranging and hosting the webinars for DAMA UK. I can honestly say it's been an inspiring, if busy role. I get to meet a range of really interesting people who share a wide range of insights and stories.

    As the host I have to turn up to all of the webinars.  I can honestly say that I have listened to presentations and heard people speak on topics that I wouldn't ordinarily have joined a webinar to learn about. So, if you do see one of our webinars being advertised on a topic that isn't perhaps your area of data speciality, please be open minded and register.  Listen to the webinar and you may be surprised what you will learn. Often tips shared in respect of one data management discipline are translatable to other data management disciplines.

    I have been amazed at the gems I have picked up from listening to webinars on topics that have nothing to do with my speciality.

    Up until last year all of our webinars were publicly available on the Brighttalk platform, but late last year we started providing additional webinars which are only available to our members. They have been a great success. 

    These webinars have provided very focussed advice for our members and given them a chance to question experts in their field.  Our latest members only webinar was in fact a presentation practice session. It gave members a safe space to practice presenting via video and gain feedback from three of our experienced committee members.  The feedback was so good that we are planning further presentation practice sessions later in the year. Please let us know if you would like to take part in one of them.

    I am currently planning our webinars for the rest of the year.  We are looking for people willing to share their stories, across all data management disciplines. If you believe that you've got a great story to share, some tips, or even better a case study of how adopting one of the data management disciplines has enabled you and your organisation to achieve better things, we'd love to hear from you.

    We have a number of the DAMA DMBoK version 2 copies which we will be giving to our webinar presenters as a thank you for doing the webinar for us.

    If you do have a story you'd like to share, please get in touch:

  • 17 Feb 2021 07:29 | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    I’m in the room – are you?

    Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

    I’m not really a big fan of online or remote interaction – frequently exacerbated by my failure to properly harness new technology. But needs must and, for me at least, working from home is going to be my new normal for the foreseeable future, so I thought I’d better start embracing it! Back in November I attended my first ever virtual conference – the IRM MDM and Data Governance summit. I’ve been a regular attendee at this event for more than 10 years as a delegate, speaker and sponsor. This is not a paid advert by the way - based on my personal experience I would say to anyone that this is a really valuable peer to peer learning event for data management professionals. As such I wanted to get the most out of it, to try and recreate the in-person experience and catch up with people in my network. So I committed to ‘be in the room’.

    I remember a keynote from a previous IRM event, delivered by Nigel Risner:

    He challenged  the audience to be in the room. “Do you live your life in the present or past tense? If you are in the room, be in the room. If your mind is elsewhere you might as well leave now.”

    I can’t recall everything he said – I was somewhat distracted by the multitude of animal hats he was wearing and the fact that at the end of it I think I concluded I was a Dolphin……but I did leave my phone in my bag and try to pay proper attention to the speakers and presentations that followed.

    So on November 3rd 2020 I booked 2 days off for personal development in the work calendar,  switched on my Out of Office notification, logged out of my work email and sat down with the conference agenda, circling the sessions that most interested me. This included a virtual wine tasting guided by a sommelier (@diegosomm) from Argentina – yum! I treated anything marked on the agenda as a networking break as just that – not a catch up with email opportunity. I had some lovely video chats with people in the breakout rooms. And I popped along to the sponsors area to look at what solutions were being promoted, now that GDPR is ‘old news’.

    It is much harder to ‘be in the room’ in a virtual environment. The platform format helped quite a lot with that. Sessions were auto-scheduled and if you were late for the start you missed the first few minutes . I think if everything was ‘on demand’ I’d have found it harder to commit the time. The presenters were on video – they couldn’t see you, but the fact that you can see who’s talking makes it easier to listen. You could type in Q & A in real time so there was some ‘live’ interaction. And, unlike the in-person event, this time I could download the whole presentation the next day – not just the slides. So often it’s the commentary that sparks the light bulb moment – not the words on the page. On the concluding panel session someone also pointed out that if you’d chosen a session unwisely (I’ve sat through some ‘big data’ ones in my time where the presenter could have been speaking in a foreign language for all that I understood) you could just switch over – no more needing to do the walk of shame and try and sneak out of the rear doors.

    So did I prefer the virtual platform to the in-person event? No - but I did enjoy it and I think that was down to the fact that I committed to “be in the room”. Whilst I was having a lovely time catching up with past colleagues I should take this opportunity to apologise to my current ones as I really did put the day job aside for two days – but I have some great Argentinean wine recommendations if you need them!

    Mary Drabble is the Principal Data Governance Analyst at Standard Life Aberdeen, leading a team embedding the organisation-wide Data Governance Implementation Framework. Mary has a proven track record in Master Data Management, Data Governance and Data Quality tools, methodologies, architectures and processes. Prior to taking on an end user role, as a consultant with more than 15 years’ experience in Information Management, she helped clients across all industries in a wide variety of engagements ranging from Analytical to Operational data and information management solutions.

  • 17 Jan 2021 19:09 | Deleted user

    Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

    This is a different type of blog! I'm Lisa Allen and I am a data professional who has worked in data for many years. Recently, Nicola Askham interviewed me for DAMA UK on the topic of data governance. During the interview, I referred to several different resources and I promised to share them with you all, so here they are. But to start with, if you missed the interview, you can find it here:

    • Data Governance Interview with Lisa Allen.


    With so many to choose from, I find myself on these more often than most. 


    If you’re just starting in data governance the Data Management Book of Knowledge (DMBoK) is a must-read. And even if you are experienced, it is a handy reference guide. 


    Personal skills 

    Personal skills are essential for data governance. How to influence, how to deal with conflict and make yourself resilient etc. These all can help you on your journey. To develop your personal and leadership skills I’d highly recommend: 

    Data technical skills

    To keep learning what is going on in the world of data I listen to the following: 

    Examples of data principles and data maturity models

    As a data professional, I think it helps to refer to other organisations approaches for ideas and tips. Here are a few examples to help you on your way.

    And finally, if you’d like to see an example of a data maturity model here’s a blog that explains the approach and a link to the model itself. 

    That’s it! I hope you find these resources useful. There are so many more out there. Let us know what resources you use in your data governance approach.

  • 22 Dec 2020 12:42 | Deleted user

    Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

    The UK Government launched its National Data Strategy (NDS) in 2020, the government sought feedback from all industries, from 9th September to 9th December, focusing on the following key topic:

    1.    Unlocking the value of data across the economy

    2.    Securing a pro-growth and trusted data regime

    3.    Transforming the government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services.

    4.     Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies

    5.     Championing the international flow of data

    Why DAMA UK responded to the NDS Consultation?

    Data and information are key enterprise assets that support an organisation. DAMA UK’s mission is to nurture a community of data professionals in the UK who champion the value of data management. We do this by connecting people, providing resources, and supporting development.

    Therefore, DAMA UK is in a unique position to provide a response with and on behalf of our members, who cover the width and breadth of data professionals in the UK. Our members are from a plethora of industries and sectors including but not limited to, charity, utilities, defence, communication, education, government, agriculture, and health etc.

    DAMA UK’s Position on the NDS Consultation

    DAMA UK is passionate both about the future of data and the development of data professionals in the UK. We play an active part in the Data Management Body of Knowledge (DMBoK), which includes the combined knowledge of data professionals around the world. We support the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) qualification. Which certifies data professionals around the world in the disciplines of data management, ensuring a common standard. 

    DAMA UK strongly supports the principles behind the UK National Data Strategy. 

    1. Especially a strategy that provides a national framework to make data universally usable, by providing clarity of definitions, guidelines, and standards.
    2. That will nurture trust in all organisations to work collaboratively to boost their individual industries, whilst cumulating in a world-leading data economy that the UK public can trust.
    3. By creating an open and trusted data infrastructure that drives efficiencies as seen in the COVID-19 vaccine collaboration.
    4. By providing cybersecurity and prevention of data threats across UK Plc.
    5. In addition, post-COVID-19 and Brexit the UK government needs to explore the opportunities and challenges of our hyper-digital world and consider all relevant priorities, potential trade-offs, and decisions. Which can be used to create post-Brexit industry leaders here in the UK in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution.

    Approach to the response 

    I led a small subcommittee. We reached out to the DAMA UK’s membership through the monthly newsletter, blogs, monthly Bright Talk events and via all DAMA UK’s social media channels including LinkedIn and Twitter. With a month to respond to the consultation, our members responded from their respective industries which gave us a varied and wide-ranging response. Our subcommittee curated the material into our government NDS Consultation document. You can review our collated response here.

    Next Steps

    The government will publish its response to the consultation in early 2021. Subject to the consultation’s findings, the government may carry out further consultation or provide details of any potential changes to the current framework strategy. 

    It's an exciting time to be in data in the UK. Watch this space, as there may be an opportunity to further input into the UK's National Data Strategy.

    Lastly, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of our members who contributed to the response!

    Season’s greetings and Happy New Year

    Akhtar Ali

    Akhtar Ali is Vice Chair of DAMA UK. A Data & Information Governance specialist with a wealth of experience in creating and implementing data vision and strategy. Akhtar has an extensive experience of working in the utilities industry, where he has gained both regulatory and commercial experience. He has a proven track record in Records Retention, GDPR, Data Governance, Data Quality tools, and Information Management, supported by strong Change Management and Business Transformation skills.

  • 20 Nov 2020 08:02 | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash

    Tomas Sanchez’s blog described how doing the right thing by data can feel like a curse – something that resonated with many of us, who face the same challenge in our organisations. Lisa Allen’s blog proposed some practical advice to tackling “the curse” – giving data a voice, taking a structured approach and using data storytelling. All great suggestions, but what if your organisation still resists implementing them? How can you spot the opposing behaviours and be forearmed with actions to finally lift the curse?

    1.       Obstacles, arguments and reasons organisations give for not implementing changes
    Change is not easy for most of us, but for organisations it can feel especially daunting. Change requires effort and effort requires change. The most common arguments I have heard are:

    “It’s too expensive” to make improvements there will be some cost, either in technology or people, and now more than ever, we are at a time when money for additional improvements is scarce.

     “We’ve managed ok so far” or “we’ve always done it this way”. People are busy with their day jobs, they’ve worked the same way for years, so it must be good enough, surely?

    “We don’t have time for this” usually accompanied by “we just need to deliver”. In other words, nobody has factored in change, they have forgotten to include this within their project/budget/roadmap.

    “We have more urgent priorities” a statement that invariably means the arguer does not understand the correlation between successful outcomes and data, and how failure to manage the latter, will probably result in failure to deliver the former.

    “If we get the right technology, it will sort the problem”. Surely the most flawed argument of all. Anybody who has ever heard this might as well have heard “abandon hope all ye who enter here!”

    2.       What are the behaviours to look for?
    An organisation’s reluctance to implement change and address the curse is often due to individual behaviours. Here are some to look out for.

    ·         Data is not in the strategy. As data professionals, we assume that everyone understands the cause and effect of poor data management on business goals. However, this is rarely the case and, if your organisation has not committed to improving data management in its strategy, it shows they don’t value it enough to commit to it. 
    ·         Quoting anecdotal evidence. As data professionals we deal with evidence and facts, but all too often you can hear incorrect statements repeated in meetings. It happens so often they pass into popular lore. A good response to the often repeated “the data quality is poor” is “can you show me the evidence?” They rarely can.
    ·         Lack of ownership. If an organisation cannot determine who owns its data, it lacks data maturity. Establishing known roles and responsibilities for data is crucial to good data management, and the foundation of doing the right thing.
    ·         Lack of governance. If data governance is not implemented, it shows that the organisation does not feel it is important. It is all very well having technical design authorities, but if these exclude data then a huge portion of the organisation’s assets are uncontrolled.
    ·         Blaming others. Individuals absolve their own responsibility by pointing out others’ shortcomings. If you hear “nobody told me I had to “or “there isn’t any guidance” or “my manager didn’t tell I needed to” you know that the organisation is reluctant to promote and support changes. Roles and responsibilities around data need to start at the top or it will be too easy to find excuses.
    ·         Technology is king. A technology-centric organisation makes data subservient. If a project has budget for technical solutions professionals, but will not fund data professionals, you know that priorities are not favourable to data. If an organisation decides which technical solution is the answer before considering data, you know that they have a long way to go.
    3.       What can management and organisations do to cope with the lack of change when results are needed?
    Data transformations do not happen overnight and change needs two things – Firstly communication from data people.  Our practices can be mysterious to those that outside our profession. Secondly commitment from management to promote and support good data practices.

    So here is some advice I would give:

    ·         Listen take some time to understand what is impacting the organisation. You don’t need specialist consultants coming into tell you what the problems are, just talk to your employees.  They will tell you what is impacting service delivery, and from there it is often easy to diagnose the data problems.
    ·         Look at what is available to help you. There are many community groups and initiatives around data. There are industry standards you can adopt. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Us data professionals are a resourceful lot, and organisations like DAMA UK exist to help you navigate your way to improved data practices.
    ·         Learn from those organisations who have invested time, effort and funds in making inroads into lifting the curse. Obtain case studies, both within your organisation and outside about what has worked well.
    ·         Leverage the skills and people you already have. People fix data problems, not tools. To make lasting change, you will need to commit to empowering and supporting these people to do a good job.
    ·         Legislate by implementing governance, policy and structures. Good data management isn’t a one-off, it needs monitoring and maintaining. That requires a commitment to invest.
    With communication and commitment, data management will improve and the curse of doing right for data can be lifted!

    Sarah Burnett is interim Chief Data Architect at Defra and is responsible for building a data architecture service. Sarah has thirty years’ experience of leading data transformation projects.

    Find the earlier blogs here:

    Tomas Sanchez – The Curse of doing right for data

    Lisa Allen – What is data done right

  • 22 Oct 2020 21:04 | Sue Russell (Administrator)

    Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

    Part 2: What is data done right?

    As Tomas Sanchez set out in the first blog of this series, data management can often feel like a curse of doing right for data. I’m going to talk to you about practical advice to help you address some of the challenges you may face.

    As many people are aware data is a vital asset for an organisation. It enables better understanding, allows you to gain insight and make better decisions. But organisations don’t always value it as such an asset. As a data professional this is challenging, but it is also your calling to turn this around for your organisation. Here are several practical steps that can help you to do right for data.

    1. A voice for data

    Whereas other functions like Human Resources or Finance have departments that give them a voice, not all organisations have a Data Department. As a data professional you can ensure data has a voice in your organisation by addressing the following areas:

    • Ensure you have senior buy in. Is there a senior manager in the business that understands the importance of data? Can you ask him or her to be the ambassador for the data, to give this perspective on the Board or at the Executive table? This will help ensure you have a data champion at the highest level.
    • Form a coalition of the willing. In organisations you naturally have people who are data advocates. These are found across the organisation and are the ones who passionately care about data even though they fill other roles. They may not even realise they are data people. You will need to identify and work with this group. They may be early adopters of your proposed changes, and they can spread best practice throughout your organisation.
    • Create a data team. You may already be lucky enough to have one or lead one. You want your data team to be the one everyone wants to work with or in. You want to show your value to the organisation by communicating the great work you are doing and how it is helping deliver business outcomes. Remember to concentrate on the benefit to the organisation and the concrete deliverables. This makes data more tangible.

    2. A structured approach

    Data spans so many different disciplines and touches every part of the business. It can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some tips:

    • Start with what outcomes your organisation wants to achieve and how can data help achieve these. What needs to be different about the data to achieve success for your business strategy?  Is it that you need to exploit your data more?  Is it that you don’t know what data you have? Understanding how your data supports your business strategy will enable you to set out your data strategy.
    • Next develop your plan of action. What areas are you going to tackle first and what does success look like?  Any data work can take a while to show real business benefit. People are impatient, and you’ll need to show returns through quick wins in the short term until, over time, you are able deliver the optimal benefit.
    • Make it easy for people to do the right thing. Often with data we congratulate ourselves for fixing data problems, but we should really save our celebrations for ensuring these issues never arise. Are there things you can put in place so that you tackle issues upstream before they even become a problem? For example, automatically recording metadata for your data assets, instead of relying on people manually documenting the data they have created or updated.

    3. Data story telling

    Being able to tell stories about the data and why people should care helps engage your organisation and get them onboard. Here are some things to consider:

    • Imagine - Can you use stories that help set out a different future? Can you engage people’s imagination to envisage a different future? Using examples of how the world is changing and how your business needs to adapt to deliver your business strategy can help spark the interests of many. Be careful though as some may think the possibilities are fanciful.
    • Scare stories – no one comes to work to do a bad job, so people may become defensive about examples of bad data practice from within your own organisation. Therefore, it’s always good to have cases from other organisations.  You can find these easily in the media. Anything from data quality issues to data protection breaches and more. Use these stories to help you with your own journey.
    • Progress – don’t forget to tell the story of how things are progressing. Tell people how you are delivering your data strategy and what that means for the business in meeting its aspirations. You cannot communicate too much – keep data on the radar.

    And finally, for me, it’s all about positivity. Data transformations can be hard. But with drive and enthusiasm success will come and, when they do, celebrate the successes. If these things were easy then your organisation wouldn’t need you.  But they do.

    Lisa Allen – Is Head of Data and Analytical Services at Ordnance Survey. A seasoned data professional with experience across government. Lisa is a committee member of DAMA UK nurturing a community of data professionals across the UK.

    This is part of a three-part series. Next hear from Sarah Burnett:

    Part 3: Main symptoms of the curse

    What are the main obstacles, arguments and reasons that organisations give for not implementing changes? What are the behaviours to look for? What does management and those organisations do to cope with the lack of change when results are needed.

    You can read part 1 here:

    Part 1: The Curse of doing right for data - Tomas Sanchez

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