It is fairly common to simplify subjects by describing and associating words that start with the letters from A to Z. Instead of wrapping up the 2017 year with a top ten list, I have decided to freshen up an older article to simplify the subject of Non-Invasive Data Governance, the approach I use with my clients to stand up their data governance programs, by describing key business terms (no slang here) that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
Each of the letters is used to describe what it means to start and stay non-invasive with your approach to implementing a data governance program.
Here we go. One word for each letter of the alphabet:
|A is for ACCOUNTABILITY. Accountability lies at the core of every successful Data Governance initiative. An approach that many organizations are focusing on is 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 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. The bottom line is that the great majority of 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 are more commonly viewed as being IT-driven and for IT purposes.
|C is for a COMMUNICATIONS Plan. A Communications Plan is vital to Data Governance success. Even though informal governance has been taking place, a 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 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 is for EXECUTIVE sponsorship, support, and understanding. One of the best practices that I see is consistently applied states that 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, and how it can be accomplished in a non-invasive manner.
|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 that there is existing and informal accountability and responsibility that, when formalized, are the foundations of a successful Non-Invasive Data Governance Program.
|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 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 is for IDENTIFY rather than assign steward responsibilities. In the Non-Invasive approach to Data Governance, people are identified as stewards by their present relationship to the data; they are known as definers, producers, and users. Assigning people as stewards is typically considered invasive as it is considered “over and beyond” existing responsibilities.
|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 to not just focus on justifying Data Governance through ROI, but to focus on formally addressing these concerns.
|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 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 is for META-DATA. Meta-Data is a by-product of a successful Data Governance Program. It includes: 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.
|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 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 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 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 also requires governance.
|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 is for STEWARDSHIP. My definition of stewardship is “formalized 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” and 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 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, and integrate data sets, many effective Tools of Data Governance can be developed internally. These tools include the Common Data Matrix, Governance Activity Matrix, Steward Repository, Issue Log, … and are mentioned in the Tools article.
|U is for UNIFORMED. Uniformed is the way 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 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 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 is for Center of EXCELLENCE (sic). 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 is for the way things were done YESTERDAY. This is always a good excuse for why data should not be governed even when people in the organization recognize that the change will be welcomed, will improve efficiency, and effectiveness and will not be as painful as they think.
|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.
I have attempted to describe Non-Invasive Data Governance using one word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. What do you think? Do you have other words that you would use to describe data governance and specifically Non-Invasive Data Governance? If so, please feel free to share them and perhaps an updated list will be provided.
Until then … Happy Holidays to all readers of my publication. Thank you for your interest.