With over $2 trillion in mortgage loans, this major home loan corporation is on the road to becoming the best credit guarantor in the single-family housing market. One step on their way was overcoming a lack of structure and coherence in data management. That meant tackling cultural issues, too.
Delivering high-quality, accessible, useful data was at the heart of our client’s vision. Their history of data management was a troubled one. Analytics strategies and capabilities were disjointed, and, although isolated data initiatives were producing interesting results, they weren’t linked to strategic objectives.
The company needed to unlock the full value of data by changing the way employees maintained and shared it. Ultimately, they wanted greater certainty and insight around the loans they were guaranteeing.
KPMG helped the company first address data strategy, standards, governance, quality, and controls and then develop of a new cultural approach to data as a source of business value, not just regulatory compliance.
The new chief data officer at this major home loan corporation was determined to avoid the mistakes of predecessors who had focused on a pure technology approach and failed to engage the business. She, along with the executive team, saw data as a vital part of the organization’s future. KPMG was appointed to support the organization in developing a new data strategy as well as implementing its many components.
Broadly speaking, the strategy offered a business-centric vision of empowerment, simplification, reuse, and control of critical business data. A central tenet was to ensure anyone could find the critical data they needed quickly and easily, without having to rely on what they called “friends and family” networks. This included consolidating business definitions in one place, eliminating duplicate or poor-quality elements, and introducing processes and controls to help ensure it was easier to maintain data quality consistently across the organization. Finally, KPMG and the company worked together to clarify the rules, structure, and guidance for the use of data.
Another principle of the transformation was that data would be governed and controlled in a way that was fit for purpose, rather than assuming “one size fits all.” This meant highly critical data (such as SOX and regulatory data) had greater structure, transparency, and control, while less critical data could be used with more flexibility to allow for innovation and experimentation.
Adopting a new operating model around data required cultural change and a transformation mind-set. Constant and consistent communication were key. KPMG helped develop an internal brand for their transformation effort, helping employees think differently about data and their roles as producers and consumers of it. The brand has been an important ingredient in helping the workforce link investments in data with associated business value.
Problems that might appear to be about data may be rooted in broader cultural issues. This means a focus on process, technology, or control alone won’t release the full value of data. Data needs to be seen as a vital business driver that is anchored in a wider understanding of the business strategy and its objectives.
The transition to a more value-driven and sustainable data focus doesn’t happen overnight. As with any major transformation, forward planning is essential to success, along with constant, consistent communication and a focus on engaging the workforce in owning and managing data.
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