I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program

Kevin Light, PMP, KMP

I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program

The term Data Governance carries a lot of baggage and connotations that are not viewed positively in most places.  Governance is viewed as command & control, bureaucratic, administrative, etc. (which, not surprisingly, are some of the synonyms for the word).  I'm trying to come up with different labels/terms for both the program and participants at my current employer and would appreciate any suggestions.  Context - this is the third implementation attempt here and I would like this one to be the one that lasts.

For example, Data Steward seems a bit out-dated/overused/dusty so I'm leaning towards Data Champion, Data Guardian or Data Advocate (I used Data Protection Champion in the past at a different company and it was well received).  When I think of Data Guardians my mind immediately goes to 'Data Guardians, defenders of the <company name> Data Galaxy' but that is a bit too out there even for me.

The organization itself is collaborative and fairly laid back.  We've performed assessments on our governance and analytics maturity and are defining the implementation strategy and focus areas addressing the critical issues surfaced in those initiatives. 

So, I would greatly appreciate any imaginative or creative ways to re-label data governance to make it a bit more appealing.

William McKnight

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

Data Oversight Committee, with Data Owners?

In Reply to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP:

The term Data Governance carries a lot of baggage and connotations that are not viewed positively in most places.  Governance is viewed as command & control, bureaucratic, administrative, etc. (which, not surprisingly, are some of the synonyms for the word).  I'm trying to come up with different labels/terms for both the program and participants at my current employer and would appreciate any suggestions.  Context - this is the third implementation attempt here and I would like this one to be the one that lasts.

For example, Data Steward seems a bit out-dated/overused/dusty so I'm leaning towards Data Champion, Data Guardian or Data Advocate (I used Data Protection Champion in the past at a different company and it was well received).  When I think of Data Guardians my mind immediately goes to 'Data Guardians, defenders of the Data Galaxy' but that is a bit too out there even for me.

The organization itself is collaborative and fairly laid back.  We've performed assessments on our governance and analytics maturity and are defining the implementation strategy and focus areas addressing the critical issues surfaced in those initiatives. 

So, I would greatly appreciate any imaginative or creative ways to re-label data governance to make it a bit more appealing.

Merrill Albert

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

Hi Kevin -

There's already another thread out there on this subject, so you might want to check that out for ideas.  Personally, I've had better luck calling it the data management program because we're governing the elements of data management (quality, metadata, etc).  We still do all the same governance stuff without that word and people often like that better.  Whatever you call it, you're still doing things like identifying control, but you can soften it to make it more acceptable.  My guess is there's something else going on than the word governance for why it hasn't taken off.  Also, I agree with you on Data Steward.  I haven't used that term in years, although I do often encounter people who like it for some reason.  I'll use it when the client insists on it, but otherwise, I don't see a reason for it.  We should all be good stewards of the data, so I don't find the need to give select people that title.

Lauren Himml

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

I don't have a different name for you for the program, but our governance committee is the Strategic Information Group (with a charge broader than data governance), and we have both Data Executives (senior-most organizational responsibility) who appoint Data Trustees (who have actual accountability to make sure stewardship is happening). We have Data Stewards who are those with hands-on responsibility delegated to by the Trustees. I too am a fan of Data Advocates, and am hoping we can implement "Data Advocates" at a user level to 1) drive home the notion that everyone is a data steward and 2) provide those with the "eagle eyes" that help keep our data clean some recognition and incentive and 3) provide a formal platform on which to raise the data literacy/data culture of the organization.

Jim Zielinski

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

Since taking over what is also an "Nth attempt," I've stressed we're a Data Governance SERVICE. That's how I refer to us in meetings and presentations.  It's one small thing to stress to our business partners (as well as to my reports) "We serve the business. We're here to help you organize, protect and use YOUR data."

Honestly, I wish we'd been reorganized under our business operations unit, but that was not to be, so we're still on the technology side of the business/technology divide. 

And yes, I agree, there should be no such divide.  But there still is.

Ray Diaz, CBIP, CDP, CSM, ICP-ATF

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Jim Zielinski)

Jim, We hear you loud and clear. Unfortunately the partnership of the Business and IT has been promoted for over 20 years and its still a struggle, though no organization cannot execute without technology as the enabler of their capabilities.

Its unfortunate that so much time is wasted on talking about Data Governance, naming the program, and obtaining commitment that its a business function, which technology supporting it.

It should be simple, but what you can't govern, you can't manage! Handling data must be a discipline process or you reach to Data Chaos.

We keep chipping away at the message and show real examples of success to influence hearts and minds. 

Best regards,

Ray

Frank Cerwin

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Ray Diaz, CBIP, CDP, CSM, ICP-ATF)

Data Governance is actually more of the means than it is the goal.  Rather call it by the name applicable to the business goal that you're trying to achieve by implementing governance.  I've used "Data Privacy", "Improved Data Quality", "Merger and Acquisition Integration" as some of the titles for the business goals that data governance was key to achieving.  It's much more relatable and likely to get funded and supported.

Jerry Smith

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

If I were to implement a new initiative in a company where DG needs "rebranding", I'd opt for something like the "Data Asset Management Office" rather than the DG Program or DG Office.  Data is an Asset.  One of the ways to get the company/culture to understand that is to put the term "Asset" right in the program's name. 

  • An asset must be stored appropriately. 
  • It must be protected or shared as the needs arise.
  • An asset has worth, though that worth can degrade over time.
  • And as the asset accumulates it may become the target of thieves.  

I also dislike the term "Data Owners" because the company owns the data, the stakeholders or people making decisions about it do not.  I saw someone else mentioned the term "Data Trustees" which I've been advocating for years.  Trustees try to make sure the assets are protected for the benefit of the data beneficiaries. 

I don't mind the term "Data Stewards", but they really do act in a custodial capacity... so I'd opt for "Data Custodians"... . Like custodians who care for a school facility, they have to help clean up the garbage, or sometimes fix a leak.  Also like custodians, let's say,  of children  - a primary role for the custodian is the care and feeding of the children (data). A custodian nurtures the children (data), sets up rules, and disciplines the children (data) when they are out of compliance of the rules.

Edited By:
Jerry Smith[All DATAVERSITY Members] @ Apr 15, 2020 - 10:58 PM (America/Eastern)

Joe Danielewicz

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Jerry Smith)

At my last employer Data Governance was loosely organized into three levels.

  1. Governance Steering Committee: Consisted of a Business and IT director. They met quarterly to set DG direction and review progress.
  2. Data Governance Council: Functional Data Stewards who met monthly to review Data Quality & metadata completeness.
  3. Data Steward Working Groups: Each Data Steward met with their business stakeholders and their IT assigned architect partners to review their projects, Terms and data lineage in the Glossary.

This organization allowed each functional area (eg. Purchasing, Supply Chain, etc.) to proceed on their own cadence.

Philip Christo Pretorius

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

Hi Kevin, we combined Data Governance and Data Management into the team name Data Asset Management & Enablement.

Hope you find a good descriptive name.

Be safe!

Benjamin Simonneau

RE: I need, no, I want a different label for a Data Governance Program
(in response to Kevin Light, PMP, KMP)

Hi Kevin,

During the shape of a data management program in a big historic French company, we thought name the future data community as "Data Friends". And, regarding the project as itself, we had some ideas like "Data Activation Program".

Regards,

Benjamin Simonneau