In my spare time, if there is such thing, I am a Swimming Official (Stroke & Turn variety) with USA Swimming, the sanctioning body for competitive swimming here in the United States. Those of you that have children that swim have likely heard or seen the expression, “If the Lord gave me one day to live I would spend it at a swim meet because it lasts forever.” My daughters both swim competitively and my wife and I learned this statement to be true from our very first meet.
I decided to become an Official because 1) it is always a good idea to be involved in your children’s activities and 2) because it gives you something to do during the meet to make the time go faster rather than cramming yourself into the always overheated and rock hard bleachers making yourself look foolish screaming for your child to “swim faster” when you know they cannot hear you (they are underwater). OK … there is a third reason and that is to benefit the terrific young athletes to better learn the skills that come with being a competitive swimmer and a good person.
I told you that basically to tell you this … This past weekend I Officiated at a Championship Meet at the University of Pittsburgh. During the pre-meet Official’s Meeting, the Meet Director typically goes over the rules for each stroke (free, back, fly and breast) in more detail then you would believe. Of course we are already tested thoroughly (!) on the rules before we are certified to become Officials. In this meeting, the Meet Director did not focus on the rules. Rather he read two lengthy articles – “What Makes a Good Official” and “Good Officials A to Z.”
This might seem kind of silly but my immediate thoughts turned to writing my article for this month’s issue of TDAN.com. I thought of “What Makes a Good Data Governance Program” and that just seemed too generic. Maybe I will write that one at a later date and you can be certain that it will revolve around taking a “Non-Invasive Data Governance” approach.
Rather I decided to start to fill in the letters of “Good Data Governance “A to Z” – at least the start. And I am looking for your help. By the way, I often ask for reader feedback but seldom do you readers take me up on the challenge. So here we go … If I get enough feedback, I will republish the list next month and incorporate your “A to Z”’s with mine.
|A||A is for ACCOUNTABILITY. Accountability lies at the core of a successful Data Governance initiative. The approach many organizations are taking focus on moving from informal to formal accountability for the management of data and data related resources. The original article that I read on governance and stewardship was written by Larry English in the mid-90s and it was called “Accountability to the Rescue”. The term accountability is the first term on this list as an A-word but it may also be the most important.|
|B||B is for BUSINESS orientation. Data Governance Program management can reside in the business area, in the technology area (not preferred) or in a shared services part of the organization. Bottom line is that the great majority of the roles associated with a successful Data Governance Program need to be held by people in the business units. Information Technology (IT) typically plays a role but programs that are directed by an IT division typically are viewed as being IT-driven and for IT purposes.|
|C||C is for a COMMUNICATIONS Plan. A Communications Plan is vital to Data Governance success. Even though informal governance has been taking place, new practice called Data Governance will need to be communicated effectively to all levels of the Data Governance Operating Model. This includes the executive, strategic, tactical, operational and support participants. The plan should also include the types of communications that are necessary and how the “message” will need to change from level to level.|
|D||D is for a DE FACTO approach to filling the roles of the Data Governance Operating Model. People are already stewarding data in the organization albeit in a very informal fashion. These people may be de facto data stewards and will likely play a key role in the implementation of your Data Governance Program.|
|E||E is for EXECUTIVE sponsorship, support and understanding. One of the best practices that I see consistently applied states the Senior Management must sponsor, support and most importantly understand the practice of Data Governance; what it means, what it will require, who it will involve, how it can be accomplished in a non-invasive manner.|
|F||F is for FORMALIZE Accountability. One of the first rules of “Non-Invasive Data Governance” states that accountabilities will not be handed to individuals as new work. Rather, organizations typically find the there is existing and informal accountability and responsibility that, when formalized, are the foundations of a successful Data Governance Program.|
|G||G is for defining what it means to GOVERN data. In a recent article, I used the dictionary definition of the word govern and related it to the governance of data. Click here for some insight into what it means to govern data.|
|H||H is for the HUMAN ELEMENT. Non-Invasive Data Governance focuses on modifying human behavior by formalizing accountability for the definition, production and usage of data. Data Governance solutions benefit from effective (or governed) use of technology however the Non-Invasive Data Governance Approach is based on the human element.|
|I||I is for IDENTIFY rather that assign steward responsibilities. In the Non-Invasive approach to Data Governance, people are identified as stewards by their present relationship to the data; definers, producers and users. Assigning people as stewards is typically considered invasive as it is considered “over and beyond” existing responsibilities.|
|J||J is for JUSTIFICATION. Chances are that you will not be able to dedicate any time or resources to Data Governance unless you have justified the need for the investment in building a practice area. Justification often focuses on risk management, quality improvement, auditability, business intelligence and customer management. As a tag-line in a commercial once said, “we don’t make the data, we make the data better.” Industry analysts say, don’t focus justifying Data Governance through ROI, focus on formally addressing these concerns.|
|K||K is for the KEY CONCEPTS of a “Non-Invasive Data Governance” approach. This approach calls for keeping people’s job accountabilities the same, leveraging and formalizing existing governance activities and addressing opportunities to improve.|
|L||L is for LIMITING your scope early on. Successful Data Governance Programs are implemented incrementally and iteratively rather than by taking the “boil the ocean” approach. Start with a slice of the pie or a slice of the slice of the pie. And, as a client once told me, don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough.|
|M||M is for META-DATA. Meta-Data is a by-product of a successful Data Governance Program. The documentation that is collected while identifying people into Data Governance roles for specific data, the collection and communications of business rules associated with the data, the information that is managed to manage data as a cross-organization (rather than a siloed) asset is meta-data.|
|N||N is for “NON-INVASIVE DATA GOVERNANCE”™. The Non-invasive Data Governance approach is trademarked by Robert S. Seiner and KIK Consulting and the name adeptly represents the key concepts of the approach.|
|O||O is for formalizing and gaining approval for an OPERATING model of roles and responsibilities. The Operating Model typically identifies responsibility and accountability at the Executive, Strategic, Tactical, Operational and Support levels of the organization. Click here to read my article on a “Non-Invasive Data Governance” Operating Model of Roles and Responsibilities.|
|P||P is for Data Governance POLICY. Data Governance Policy typically establishes two things – 1) the Operating Model of Roles and Responsibilities and 2) the Data Governance Program Team that will facilitate and administer Data Governance activities.|
|Q||Q is for Data QUALITY. Data Quality cannot be accomplished without some level of governance around the definition, production and usage of data. Data Quality depends on a foundation of accepted data definition and standards. Building and enforcing definitions and standards require governance. The resolution of data quality issues requires governance.|
|R||R is for ROLE-BASED actions. Role-based actions are the activities that are to be carried out to fulfill functions and processes that will be governed. These actions can be data management or business process oriented. Role-based actions are associated to specific levels of the Operating Model mentioned above.|
|S||S is for STEWARDSHIP. My definition of stewardship is “formailized accountability for the management of data and data-related resources”. My 10-part series of articles on TDAN.com is called “The Stewardship Approach to Data Governance” emphasizes that Governance must be accomplished through formalizing the activities of people known as stewards. Data Governance is not a technical problem and does not require a technical solution.|
|T||T is for TOOLS of Data Governance. There are several tools that will assist you in the design, development and implementation of your Data Governance Program. While purchased tools and software will enable you to physically manage your data, assess the quality, integrate data sets, many effective Tools of Data Governance can be develop internally. These tools include the Common Data Matrix, Governance Activity Matrix, Steward Repository, Issue Log, … are mentioned in the Tools article.|
|U||U is for UNIFORMED. Uniformed is the manner in which Data Governance should be applied across the enterprise. Organizations that follow the Non-Invasive Approach build a foundation that includes an Operating Model of Roles and Responsibilities. This model is typically deployed in a uniformed manner across business units, functional areas and domains of data.|
|V||V is for VALUE STATEMENTS. There are several versions of Data Governance Value Statements available. Value Statements demonstrate the cause and effect between a specific data related behavior and the results of that behavior. For example, my value statements use the formula “Companies that do ‘X’ can expect ‘Y'”.|
|W||W is for looking for a WIN-WIN situation. Data Governance does not have to be about Command-and-Control. Data Governance must be focused on looking for win-win situations through the leveraging of existing levels of accountability while addressing the opportunities to improve.|
|X||X is for Center of EXCELLENCE. Many organizations have set up a center of excellence around data governance that typically takes the form of a Data Governance Planning Team or Program Team (depending on maturity of the governance discipline).|
|Y||Y is for the way things were done YESTERDAY. This is always a good excuse for why not-to-govern-data even when people in the organization recognize that the change will be welcome, will improve efficiency and effectiveness and will not be as painful as they think.|
|Z||Z is for ZEALOUS, the way people in your organization will be when they see that you have followed a “Non-Invasive Data Governance” approach that leverages what is working and addresses opportunities to improve by formalizing behavior and accountability rather than handing governance tasks to people as new work.|