Bringing Data Governance into Your Organization

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Analysts and professional services organizations offer multiple definitions for data governance. But, they rarely provide a clear picture of what data governance should look like within an organization. In this post, I’ll define data governance and provide insight into how you can initiate a data governance program at your organization.

So, let’s start with the basics –

What is data governance? 

Data governance is simply the process that defines what data matters to your organization. That sounds easy enough, right?  But, how do you define what data matters and how can you tell if your organization is already doing some of this work?  To figure that out, answer the following three questions:

  • Can you accommodate data-related events?
  • Do you have a set of processes to articulate data-centric policies?
  • Do you have a system of metadata management that represents your business execution knowledge, which is essential to providing context for data management routines?

If you said “Yes” to all three questions, then congratulations are in order! You are engaged in some level of data governance. These three questions represent the basic components that make up a data governance program.

Alright, you’ve established that you are already doing some of the work, but how do you proceed with getting a formal data governance program off the ground?  Do the following:

  • Identify individuals who can provide definition, organization, and policy development.
  • Recruit team members in your organization who are skilled in business analysis and communication and who can review your business areas for data governance needs.
  • Stay focused on building a data governance framework that fits your organization’s needs. This framework will likely be a snapshot of business excellence and expectations that are aligned with future business initiatives.

What’s next?

Initiating the Cycle of Data Governance

The best strategy for educating your organization about data governance is to focus on future business objectives rather than on current or past failures. This strategy works well when you can identify an opportunity in operations, analytics or compliance.

When you’re ready to initiate data governance, try to start with master data management and then move to building a business case.

When it comes to master data management, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the primary driver for data governance?
  • What is the primary domain or process area?
  • What is the organizational alignment to support it?
  • Who are the stakeholders and sponsors?

Once you can answer these questions, you’re ready to move on and build a business case. Note that the business case doesn’t always focus on return on investment (ROI).  Also, heavy calculations of ROI can be distracting and can inflate both expectations and project scope. Organizations in the early stages of building data governance competencies should focus on small chunks of opportunity that offer quick benefits. Eventually, the business case will require you to address the following elements:

  • Needs analysis
  • Identification of stakeholders
  • Perception analysis
  • Value proposition

By focusing on master data management and the business case, you should be able to promote a charter or a mission statement within your organization. 

Remember, managing information in a disciplined way requires a shift at the organization.  Think of data governance as an ongoing work stream of data management that is built over time with both tactical and long-term initiatives.

For more information on how DATUM can help you with your data governance initiatives, visit us at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW booth #1020 or

This post highlights content found in the newly released book, “Application Data Management - Empower Business Teams to Get Data Right”.  DATUM’s own Will Crump, served as a guest author contributing expertise on the topic of Data Governance and Stewardship in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).   

Purchase the book at insiderBOOKS or if you’re attending SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, stop by Winshuttle booth #847.  You can pick up a book and attend the book signing Thursday May 18th at 10:30AM ET as well as meet the authors, Vikram Chalana, and our own Will Crump.

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