8 Steps to Start Your Data Governance Program

Many organizations have prioritized Data Governance as a top initiative, but we know that it can be hard to know where to start. In this blog, we outline eight steps to help you embark on the implementation of a Data Governance program.

1.)  Initiation:  So you know you want to initiate a Data Governance program, but now you need to figure out who’s going to lead the way. Most Data Governance programs get started within an information technology (IT) area, but it’s not necessarily best to have an individual from that team lead the data governance program. A CIO could potentially be too close to the technology or data sources and view data projects as a burden. You might consider someone more removed from the data, like a CFO or CMO, to drive the program. You want a leader who can look at data as an asset, not a technical responsibility. No matter who leads the program, however, data governance should be a top-down approach and have buy-in across all leadership.

Data Governance should be instilled from the top-down.

2.)  Assess: Whether you know it or not, there are likely a lot of data governance activities already going on at your organization. Look at what you’re already doing – things like “master data management” and “information management” – in order to figure out where the holes are and what you need to have a stronger data governance program. At Analytics8, when we meet with clients on data governance initiatives, we ask them to answer a series of questions seen in the example form below to start their assessment.

3.)  Vision: Until you show a day-in-the-life presentation, many people don’t comprehend how Data Governance impacts their position or work environment. As you create and communicate your vision, demonstrate to each team how solid Data Governance can specifically help them do their job better and how their actions contribute to overall success. This will help them realize that their work, such as creating an Excel spreadsheet that several other people utilize on a shared drive, is a data asset. Now they can connect the dots and realize how that spreadsheet is helping the company, not just helping them complete individual tasks. It’s extremely valuable to let people know that they are a key component to your Data Governance Program.

4.)  Align Business and Value: Assuming your organization’s goal is to create profit, this step develops the financial value statement and baseline for ongoing measurement. First, you must make sure Data Governance is aligned with any other data and information management efforts happening at your company. Then, it’s important to document and establish baseline performance metrics for Data Governance, so that you can measure the impact of your efforts in the future.

5.)  Functional Design: Functional design – arguably the most important step – looks at functions and processes (not the people) that need to be in place to develop and deploy your data governance program. The deployment team will determine the core list of what Data Governance will accomplish, identify information management functions and processes, and identify roles and responsibilities. Once the design of the program is very clear, make sure it resonates with management. If you don’t have buy-in from the top, chances are your Data Governance program will fail.

6.)  Governing Framework Design: Once functions are determined, the next step is to apply the functional design to the team. The reason this step is separated from the prior Functional Design step is because it’s important to establish what will make your Data Governance program successful without thinking about who will perform what. You don’t want to establish a role because you know that one of your managers is technical with a strong personality and therefore would be good at leading a function. Only after you define how you want your Data Governance program to look and function should you assign roles and responsibilities to personnel.

7.)  Roadmap:  This step plans the details around the “go live” events of Data Governance. A roadmap document should include the requirements and groundwork to sustain your Data Governance program. The outline of a roadmap may include steps like:

  1. Integrate Data Governance with other data efforts
  2. Design Data Governance metrics and reporting requirements
  3. Define the sustaining requirements
  4. Design a change management plan
  5. Define the operational roll-out of the program

8.)  Roll-out and Sustain:  The Data Governance team should work to ensure that the program remains effective and meet (or exceeds) expectations. Until Data Governance is totally internalized and ingrained, you need to manage the transformation from non-governed data assets to governed data assets. Once the plan is rolled out and change management plan executed, the Data Governance framework should be scrutinized for effectiveness. Use the metrics you defined to measure effectiveness and allow a separate forum to assess performance. Data Governance is not self-sustaining, so be willing to adapt as needed.

For more details and resources about initiating your Data Governance program, download these slides or watch our Data Governance webinar.

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