Non-Invasive Data Governance

On September 22 & 23, 2008, KIK Consulting and Bob Seiner are holding a 2-day public forum/course/seminar on ‘How to Build & Implement
“Non-Invasive Data Governance”™ & Data Stewardship Programs’.  This course is also held on-site specifically focused on the
most practical and effective ways of implementing data governance for the hosting organization.

Recently, the author of this article (yours truly and the instructor of the above mentioned courses) was asked to assist a company in New York City in
convincing their training department why it might be a good idea to hold the two-day course on-site.  As part of that request, the company’s contact
person threw five questions my way.  While diligently answering her questions, the answers seemed to be generally about ‘Why implement a
“Non-Invasive Data Governance” program’ rather than being focused on why they should hold the course on-site.

After reviewing my answers, I found that it might be worthwhile to share those answers with you, the TDAN.com audience.  Please let me know if these questions address what YOU may be looking for and whether you would consider holding the 2-day session at your organization.  If not, perhaps you will consider the 2-day public seminar mentioned above.

A couple of things to consider, … The onsite and public courses are not really a “COURSE” course.  The 2-days on-site (and as much as possible with a public course with many organizations in attendance) do not take the form of a lecture.  The sessions are extremely interactive and focused on addressing issues that pertain to you and your organization. 

Remember that my answers specifically addressed this company’s questions.  And the answers geared toward
holding the course on-site for that organization.  The questions that my friend from New York asked:

Why should we have a data governance program?

First of all, it is important to understand that all organizations govern their data to some extent. 

Some organizations govern data very informally and still wind up being pretty successful.  These organizations acknowledge that they have data quality
issues, acknowledge that they have redundant data that causes problems (sometimes
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recognize that the stakeholders in the data spend significantly resources searching for, integrating, and understanding the data that they use to complete their function.  These organizations
recognize that there is potential compliance, security, privacy and poor decision making risk associated with informal governance of the data and they willingly spend ‘other’ resources
to make certain these risks are minimized. These organization can be successful but could potentially gain a significant competitive advantage and risk elimination if there was practical level of
formality around how data is defined, produced and used.

Some organizations govern data formally.  These organizations understand that data is a valuable tool for the organization and they recognize that many
people in the organization have informal levels of responsibility around the management of the data.  These organizations decide to move from informal to formal governing of data.  Data
governance can be ‘invasive’ or ‘non-invasive’ to these organizations although, from my experience, many are selecting to take a ‘non-invasive’ approach to
identifying and recognizing people to participate in the governance of data depending on their existing relationship (role) to the data.  These organizations apply data governance roles at
appropriate times to existing work culture, processes and methods rather than redefining the means of improving how data is managed.  These organizations formally involve these existing roles
and processes (almost) as a by-product of data governance to improve compliance, security, … and most of all, understanding and use of data.  These organizations do not spend a lot of
money specifically on governing data because they recognize that technology and tools can be enablers of data governance success, but they cannot BE the solution.

Who is involved? What will we ask the business team to do in this program?

Typically organizations identify a person (or a small team of people) that have responsibility for leading, defining and administering the data
governance program.  This person/team typically does not focus on data governance full time however that is not to say that some organizations do apply dedicated resources to this
function.  This person/team can come from the business-side or the technology-side of the organization (or a combination) with different considerations depending on what is chosen.  This
is discussed in detail during the course.

The people in the business areas will be identified by their existing relationship to the data that will be governed.  These people are recognized as
operational data stewards, people that already define, produce and use data as part of their function.  Initially these people are just identified and recorded but time commitments
over-and-above their existing time commitment is not requested.  This can change over time but the amount of time they spend and the activities that they are presently involved bin do not have
to change significantly.  Note: many organizations that engage operational stewards as part of an analytic reporting, data warehousing, master data management initiative first think that the time requirement for stewarding data becomes very great and they ‘blame’ it on the data governance initiative.  Truth is, this time (or more)
would be spent with or without data governance in place.

The biggest hurdle for most organizations is the identification of two pivotal business roles and a pivotal business committee.  These business
roles are the Data Domain Steward (someone that has responsibility or authority for a certain subject area of data – or sub-subject area of data) and the Data Steward Coordinator (someone who
coordinates the operational data stewards within their business unit or functional area).  Again, these roles do not have to be (and typically are not) full-time.  The business committee
is typically called a Data Governance Council and that group consists of representative from all business and IT areas.  This council typically meets once a month for 60-90 minutes but they
are also engaged to make strategic decisions pertaining to enterprise data when that decision cannot be made tactically (by the domain stewards) or operationally (by the operational data
stewards).  Again, this is discussed in great detail during the course.  My intention is to fit a practical framework over your existing work culture and organization rather than trying
to fit your organization into an external framework.

The last role of note is the System Subject Matter Experts (SSMEs) and Data Subject Matter Experts (DSMEs) which are typically an IT (Systems)
role
.  These people are also identified and engaged according to their present relationship with the data.  This is also discussed in the course.

How much time is needed from each business unit?

In order not to have this response drag on too long, … this question is answered somewhat under the previous question.  This much can be said – The goal of the “Non-Invasive Data Governance”™ approach is to make the business unit’s life easier and more
efficient/effective, not the contrary.

The easiest answer is that it depends on how much time they are presently engaged in data-related activities.  We want the hours they spend to be more
productive (and less than they spend now if at all possible).

Why do we need to have this class?

Organizations that embark on data governance initiatives are often met by a lot of starts and stops.  There is often confusion as to ‘what is
data governance’ and there is a misconception that data governance has to be difficult and over-and-above the existing work culture.  Many organizations view data governance as being
bureaucratic, time consuming and politically-based.  It does not have to be that way and in fact, people are often very receptive and want to learn about how data governance can be
non-invasive.

People that attend the course will play an active role for your organization in defining how data governance is defined and implemented. 

The 2-days should be geared directly at your audience.  The end result of the 2-days is the development of an actionable plan for building a
non-invasive program and immediate utilization of the templates that will quickly and effectively enable successful formalization of data governance.

I will be glad to share more information regarding why the course is helpful and I will be glad to connect you with multiple references that have recently
held the course and/or followed the approach.

Who should attend this class?

Business data managers, business functional area directors and managers, technical data managers and directors, project managers, executive leadership
(potentially for a short intro to the subject and approach), people that may be data domain stewards, coordinators, operational data stewards and/or council members (as described above). 
Typically a mix of business and technical attendees (usually more business but that depends on the organization).

People that will be expected to lead the data governance initiative as described above.

Closing Comments

For on-site sessions, the course can be molded to fit your precise needs.  There is a standard 2-day session
where everybody participates for the complete 2-days.  Other organizations have requested an executive overview session for 60-120 minutes before the main
part of the course starts, one organization (this month) requested a first day with their core data governance team and the second day with the stewards they had already identified (adjusting the
topics accordingly), others have requested a single “day of learning”, … flexibility is my style. 
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For the onsite sessions, I typically request a phone call(s) and material to review prior to the course to gain a solid understanding of your
organization.  This certainly assists me in addressing your organization’s specific interests and needs. 
Please let me know if these questions and answers were helpful and whether or not you are interested in speaking with me about the public or on-site course.

Most importantly, … Stay practical in your approach, … Stay non-invasive in your approach.  Many
organizations are already “doing it”.  I hope I can assist you as well.

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About Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. (Bob) Seiner is the publisher of The Data Administration Newsletter (TDAN.com) – and has been since it was introduced in 1997 – providing valuable content for people that work in Information & Data Management and related fields. TDAN.com is known for its timely and relevant articles, columns and features from thought-leaders and practitioners. Seiner and TDAN.com 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.

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