Practical Points from the DGPO – Data Governance Organizations

DGPOHappy New Year! Hopefully you had a fantastic holiday and are ready to embark on a new year of opportunities. Whether data governance is completely new to your company, growing, maturing, or aging (like a good bottle of wine, of course), now is a GREAT time to consider what’s in store for your organization in 2016. As you consider your goals and objectives, you will likely consider who within your company will be helping to execute your plan. As needs differ across companies, industries, and countries, there is no one set organizational chart, template, or guide for building a data governance organization. While we will always emphasize that a data governance program is unique to the company in which they are developed and no two are the same (like little fallen snowflakes), the DGPO Best Practices Special Interest Group that met throughout 2015 has identified three key areas and related best practices for organizational considerations for data governance to be most effective.

  1. Define and establish data governance organizational bodies. Contrary to many initial beliefs, operational data governance is not the fruit of the efforts of a single, centralized authoritative organizational body. To be effective across an entire enterprise, data governance must be a combination of efforts from cross-functional teams operating in tandem towards a set of common goals. While there may be an over-arching body for administration such as a DG Office, functioning groups are necessary throughout the company to bake-in data governance requirements into everyday tasks. Yes, a strategic framework is important, but without folks on the ground to ensure accurate and appropriate tactical execution, your data governance efforts will be far more of an academic exercise than a strategic value-add to the company. To define and establish the right organizational structure for your company, you should:

    • Describe the roles and responsibilities of each organizational body and their inter-relationships.

    • Describe the roles and responsibilities of each group/function within each organizational body.

    • Describe the roles, responsibilities and relationships of groups external to the DG organization.

    • Define and illustrate the relationships of internal and external bodies in the DG Program in a diagram.

    • Define and illustrate workflows for processes, procedures, and collaborative activities across teams.

  1. Develop a data governance organizational and relationship chart. Just because people know to whom they report and their specific role (well at least we hope they do), it certainly does not mean they know or understand what other roles, responsibilities, and relationships are throughout the data governance organization, especially as growth happens and changes occur. The data governance organization may also not be aligned with the business organizational chart which is completely fine, in fact often suggested. But, the structural differences can create an additional layer of confusion. To avoid the complications and misunderstandings and ensure there is visibility and transparency about the who, what, and how of your data governance program, develop a clear, easy to understand Data Governance Organizational and Relationship Chart that includes individuals, teams, and functions, and is easily accessible in a shared location. The chart should include and explain:

    • Who’s Who” within the company’s organizational structure and their data governance related role.

    • How DG teams interact and align with each other and how they engage with external teams.

    • Key stakeholders (teams and individuals), internal and external to the data governance program.

    • RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed) charts of individuals and teams for decision-making model.

  1. Define key roles and responsibilities. Defining the structure of the organization alone is not sufficient for effective data governance. Every role must be fully defined and universally accepted to avoid duplication of effort, conflicts of interest, and territorial battles (we never experience those in data governance, right?). To ensure that the right people, skills and capabilities are in place for an effective enterprise data governance program, each role definition should include:

    • The knowledge, skills and abilities required to effectively complete role requirements.

    • The training and education necessary to support, develop, and grow the specific position.

    • Success criteria and metrics with specific methods of measurement.

    • Defined career path or growth plan.

Important considerations when defining and supporting cross-functional teams are soft skills such as conflict resolution, negotiations, consensus building, communication, and facilitation.

Remember, data governance programs are individually designed and nurtured. Every program evolves over time. Having the right people with the right organizational framework will help you weather the changes over time and strengthen as you grow.

Here’s to a year of successful data governance for you and your teams!

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About Data Governance Professionals Organization

The DGPO is a non-profit, vendor neutral, association of business, IT and data professionals dedicated to advancing the discipline of data governance. If you would like more information on joining the DGPO, please check out the DGPO Website.

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