Creating a data governance council: Enlist champions to lead

Enlist senior-level champions from both business and IT to guide a data governance program and achieve harmony between the two sides.

What are some ways to get the business and IT to work together to lead a data governance program?

To be effective, data governance must be driven by the business from the executive level down. An effective data governance program is usually part of an enterprise information management initiative, since data governance is the foundational component of good enterprise data management.

Data governance, although it should be directed by the business, is not just a business activity. The IT department plays a strong role in any successful data governance program, and in many organizations IT is the originator of that program. Since there may be tension between the two parts of the enterprise, achieving harmony will enable the organization to establish and sustain a viable data governance program.

How to do that? The most important step is to enlist champions for the data governance initiative from both business and IT. These champions should be at a senior level and have demonstrated understanding of the value of data governance to the organization. Ask the champions to nominate candidates for a data governance council composed of business and IT leaders who will guide the program and ensure its continuity, develop and support business cases for data governance projects, and secure appropriate funding for data governance resources.

The data governance council will lead the organizational change management that is a critical component of any successful data governance program, and representation by both business and technical leadership on this council and other enterprise data management and data governance bodies can help provide a coordinated working arrangement between the two parts of the organization.

Under the data governance council are the data stewardship teams, organized by subject or functional area (not by application) in all parts of the business, with stewards who are subject matter experts for each area. Most areas will have multiple stewards since most areas have a sufficient amount of data to require the services of more than one steward. That means that a leading steward must be appointed for each area to resolve any intra-team issues. The IT group supports the stewardship teams through technical stewardship of all metadata, master data, data quality, and business intelligence and other products that business stewards use. The IT leadership should have a leading technical steward appointed to resolve major IT challenges among the various IT technical stewards.

Data governance management is a people-process-technology balancing act, and the most successful data governance programs recognize the need for continued attention to organizational change management, as well as to data governance best-practices implementation.

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