What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?

Shannon Kempe

What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?

We get this question all the time in our webinars... in your opinion, what is the first step for those looking to start a Data Governance program?

Edited By:
Shannon Kempe[All DATAVERSITY Members] @ Jan 17, 2019 - 07:03 AM (America/Pacific)

Diana Stout, MBA

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Shannon Kempe)

For me, the first step was research. Understanding Data Governance inside and out were instrumental in getting buy-in from our executives. I created a basic "future outlook" type presentation that highlighted the PROBLEMS that we deal with on a daily basis because of the LACK of DG, and highlighting the proven BENEFITS of a mature DG program. I took this on a road show and met with almost every department in my company. We discussed DG and how it could affect them, how it would work for them, etc. Then after collecting ideas and feedback from all the potential council members and data stewards, I sat with the C-suite and gave them my whole presentation. 

After I got their approval, I did the following as "quick wins": 

Create a LEXICON (business terms used throughout the company)

Create a DATA MAP (this can be complicated - i.e. DG software, or it can be a simple spreadsheet that includes data locations, contents, owners, managers, etc. )

Create a REPORT CATALOG (this can show all the BI reports throughout the company, a note about their contents, how to use them, the author, etc.)

After those are in place, and you teach your stakeholders how to use each of these useful tools, it is time to develop your documentation. Create a DG charter, start organizing your policies, standards, and procedures. Most of these probably exist already around the company - even if they are informal or not written down. Get them in place in a sharepoint or similar repository.

You can also do audits... audit who has access to what. There are a number of ways you can take your program, it will probably depend on where your company's hot button issues reside. (And whether your DG office is more "business" or "IT" centric. 

Robert S Seiner

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Diana Stout, MBA)

Great answer Diana. The first step I typically suggest (beyond educating yourself in approaches to implement DG - like you stated) is to conduct a best practice assessment of your organization against industry proven DG best practices and then develop a roadmap based on that assessment. Best practices may be that Sr Leadership supports, sponsors and understands what it means/takes to implement formal DG. Another may be that someone in the organization has time allocated to building out the function. Without these two things (and several more), your Data Governance program will immediately be at risk.

Robert S. Seiner

KIK Consulting & Educational Services

The Data Administration Newsletter (TDAN.com)

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Mark Stockwell

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Shannon Kempe)

I think Diana highlighted the most essential element to getting started, WHY? Data Governance is a solution to a PROBLEM (current or expected) that is understood and has been prioritized as important (worthy of investment) by the organization. Attempting to start a DG program without focus on its direct contribution to solving business problems (value) will be painful and frustrating at best.  If you are looking for problems to contribute to solving you won’t likely have to look far.  They could be as simple as an Information Product Consumers lack of trust or belief in the data driven information they are receiving in reports, dashboards or transactional systems that result in delays in decision making or other operational inefficiencies.  To more complex scenarios involving data interoperability, mergers/acquisitions or new system implementations that will almost certainly involve data.  Look at these opportunities and identify the key concerns, are they related to proper use (choosing the wrong source, not understanding the definition, using the wrong formula, data mapping/transform, etc.), are they quality related (completeness, validity, timeliness, etc.) or rooted around another dimension supported by data governance.  As Robert then suggests assess your capabilities to address, don’t over contract yourself, pick a dimension or two that you know you can succeed in creating value from and work it to closure. These identified concerns, and your early iterative efforts, will form the seeds from which your program will develop.  Regardless of the dimension you choose to address you will need to establish policies, procedures, standards, business rules, etc. that will govern how the data involved is managed and used.  And because data is a fluid asset that produces value to many different depts. in your organization, in many different ways, you will need to establish a community (council) to collectively develop and agree on the creation and content of these artifacts.  A single individual (a Data Governor) will also need to be identified to be accountable to the enterprise for carrying out the implementation and monitoring of adherence, generally with the support of their appointed Data Steward(s).  Starting in this way allows your program to prove recognizable value, grow organically and scale at a manageable rate.  My two cents, hope you find it useful 😊

Briggs Christie

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Mark Stockwell)

We started with a series of interviews with data owners and key users to get a solid handle on not only the current state of things but also data issues, challenges and needs. It got us a clear picture of where DG could be effective quickly and also got the interviewees excited about what was in the works. It also brought to light Data Quality issues and opportunities for data sharing needs that could be answered right away.

Shailesh B Nimbalkar, Data Architect

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Briggs Christie)

For us the Governance Discipline started with a slow pace. We also started Assessing Application Architecture Groups in the Information Management Discipline. We started measuring various groups against assessment metrics including five pillars -

  1. Information Governance & Management
  2. Information Architecture
  3. Data Quality
  4. Business Intelligence
  5. People-Culture.

In this assessment, while assessing People and Culture, we experienced that there is a need of assessment and training of "individuals" for Information Management discipline.

So, for us our first step in Data Governance program is to evangelize Information Management Principles across multiple business and application groups

Kris Minier

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Briggs Christie)

@Christie Briggs, would you be willing to share the questions asked in your interviews? I will be going through a similar process with business stakeholders. I have some questions identified as a starting point, and am curious to know what worked for you.

Thank you,

Kris Minier

Director, Master Data Management | LeasePlan USA
T: 678 680 7844 

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&a

Briggs Christie

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Kris Minier)

I didn't have a list of "set" questions but let the interviewees lead me a bit. There were some starters that worked, though:

What are your data quality issues? How are they being handled (or not)?

What data sources do you currently leverage? Do you know where the raw data comes from? (Many did not)

What data do you need that you don't have? (That was a good kick-off for all sorts of fun...)

Who are the consumers of your data/reports?

Where do you get your reference data or do you have your own version?

What reporting/analytic tools do you use? (Many a "sandbox" was found...)

There was also a discussion about the concepts of a business glossary, data lineage, metadata and workflow process management. It was interesting that EVERY person I spoke to understood that we needed data governance (they just hadn't known what to call it).

Kris Minier

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Briggs Christie)

Thank you so much for your response, Christie. These are very helpful and I'm sure they will get the conversations going.

Kris

Prakash Kewalramani

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Briggs Christie)

I agree with Christie, like any other program, I think it's important to understand the current state. I believe every organization has certain level of Data Governance. It is just a matter of bringing it out in a structured way. Some DG programs start with Master Data Management, some focus on data quality and some simply think metadata management is the answer for data governance. I have also seen some organizations are more focused on the compliances and risk management. All these are building blocks of data governance.

Do what is most important for your organization? This means after you understand the current state and immediate pain points, focus that part first and get quick wins on these components and gradually move towards agreed upon your road map to achieve the target state.

Merrill Albert

RE: What's the first step to building a Data Governance program?
(in response to Prakash Kewalramani)

I start with talking to people.  Typically, someone gives me a list of a dozen people they think know the most.  I talk to them and they lead me to others.  I find out what their problems are and why they think they need data governance.  I like one-on-one discussions so people are free to ask whatever they want without feeling embarrassed in a big group or with their managers.  I also like a "roadshow" approach (although I started that term when I was literally on the road going between different office locations).  I like to give people a couple of pages we can talk through about what data governance is and how we might structure it.  I get their opinion and let them take the pages away and think things through.