Non-Invasive Data Governance™

No one needs to tell you that data and information are a big part of your life.

From the personal data you meticulously manage;

To the data you have about your business: customers, products, suppliers, services you provide;

To the data you protect, analyze and report personally or through your business;

To the proper, moral and legal responsibility you have to your organization for the formal accountability of every person in your organization to appropriately manage that data.  This is “Data Governance”.

Data can be 1) of great value to the organization or data can be 2) the one thing that stands in the way of the viability and ability of your organization to best serve its customers or stay one step ahead of its competitors.

Businesses and organizations are recognizing that data is a valuable asset and potential liability at the highest levels of these entities.

A way exists to put formal data governance in place without interfering with the present business plans, upsetting the culture, threatening the people in the organization that already define, produce and use data to perform their work functions.

This approach is called Non-Invasive Data Governance™.

Data Governance programs focus on the execution and enforcement of authority and accountability for the management of data as a valued organizational asset.

Data Governance programs focus on managing risk and maximizing the value of the organization’s data and information. In this “big data” age, a real definition for data governance should be “formalizing people’s behavior defining, producing and using data through the application of proper accountability for their relationship with the data leading to improvements in data risk management (security, privacy, protection,classification, and compliance), increased quality and understanding of data,and improved analytical and decision making capabilities.”

In other words, data governance exemplifies everything a business or organization needs to succeed and prosper.

Data governance leads to the formal management of data as a strategic, organizational asset and the formal stewardship of, and accountability for, data across an organization. Many organizations are considering data-governance program implementations if they have not already started down this path.

The following table outlines the core difference between the Non-Invasive Data Governance™ approach and traditional methods of implementing data governance:

With Non-Invasive Data Governance™: With other approaches to Governance:
Data Governance is communicated as something that is already taking place albeit in an informal, inefficient, and often ineffective manner. Non-Invasive Data Governance™ focuses on formalizing existing levels of accountability, addressing lapses in formal accountability and typically costs the time that is put into the effort. Data Governance is communicated as being expensive, complex, time consuming and over-and-above the existing work culture of the organization.
Non-Invasive Data Governance™ is viewed as being designed to fit the culture of the organization and to take advantage of exiting levels of governance as to not be viewed as encroachment. Data Governance is viewed as a discipline that will add unnecessary rigor and bureaucracy to business processes thus slowing delivery cycles and making data more difficult to access and use.
Non-Invasive Data Governance™ expectations are set by assisting business areas to recognize and articulate what they cannot do because the data of the organization will not support those activities. Data Governance expectations are set by the team of individuals responsible for the design and implementation of the data governance program.
Individuals are identified and recognized into roles associated with their existing relationship to the data – as data definers, producers, users, subject matter experts and decision makers, as a way of stressing their importance and impact on data across the organization. Individuals are assigned new roles as part of their involvement in the data governance program.
Individuals’ job titles do not change and there is acknowledgement that the vast majority of their responsibilities will not change. Individuals are given the title of Data Steward and their job responsibilities are adjusted accordingly.
More than one data steward (formally accountable person) is associated with each type of data. The organization recognizes that there are numerous people with this association to data (i.e. multiple users of particular data that all must be held formally accountable for how they use the data). Individuals are assigned as THE data steward for specific subject areas of data (i.e. a customer data steward, a product data steward, finance data steward).
Organizations apply Non-Invasive Data Governance™ principles to existing work flows and processes by formalizing discipline, accountability and involvement to these processes. Organizations refer to processes as “Data Governance processes” giving the impression that the processes are being carried out because of or as a result of the Data Governance program.
Non-Invasive Data Governance™ can be managed out of a business unit or Information Technology unit as both the business areas and IT hold specific knowledge and formal accountability relative to governing data as a valued enterprise effort. Data Governance must reside in a business unit and be directed as a business effort with limited involvement from Information Technology.

This article previews the forthcoming book from Bob Seiner – highlighting the differences between the Non-Invasive and other approaches to data governance.

Interested in learning more about Non-Invasive Data Governance™? Attend KIK Consulting’s 2-day public class that will be held regularly with ProTech Professional Technical Services. This class will be available simultaneously in person in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (US) and in the virtual classroom (anywhere in the world). The first offering of this class will be June 26-27, 2014. To learn more, please visit

Non-Invasive Data Governance™ is a trademark of Robert S. Seiner and KIK Consulting.


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About Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. (Bob) Seiner is the publisher of The Data Administration Newsletter ( – and has been since it was introduced in 1997 – providing valuable content for people that work in Information & Data Management and related fields. is known for its timely and relevant articles, columns and features from thought-leaders and practitioners. Seiner and were recognized by DAMA International for significant and demonstrable contributions to Information and Data Resource Management industries. Seiner is the President and Principal of KIK Consulting & Educational Services, a data and information management consultancy that he started in 2002, providing practical and cost-effective solutions in the disciplines of data governance, data stewardship, metadata management and data strategy. Seiner is a recognized industry thought-leader, has consulted with and educated many prominent organizations nationally and globally, and is known for his unique approach to implementing data governance. His book “Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success” was published in late 2014. Seiner speaks often at the industry’s leading conferences and provides a monthly webinar series titled “Real-World Data Governance” with DATAVERSITY.