Preparing for Data Governance: The #1 Thing You Should Do
One of the most common questions I receive is “What are the activities and deliverables we should prepare prior to implementing a data governance platform?” And while no two organizations will engage in exactly the same activities when preparing for data governance, from experience, we can provide guidelines to help you get ready. Collibra University provides a Data Governance Readiness class that many customers find useful. Yet, we often see data governance teams spend an exhaustive period of time in preparation activities.
Our readiness class is focused on identifying the minimal steps you should take to begin your governance program. We recommend that some of those activities are mandatory, while others are suggested as additional preparation. We created the readiness class to inform data governance teams that they do not need to spend a significant number of months in preparation activities. However, we have a number of customers that, because to the organization’s culture, must have governance policies, user guides, and detailed training developed before they can on-board the first data steward. However, that level of effort is not necessary to start. And in fact, we suggest that you should actually begin those activities after you understand how a data governance platform can accelerate your processes and efficiency of resources. It is a trade-off between hoping you have everything thought out before you start versus developing processes as you determine you need them based upon your experiences with data governance. Not all organizations want to accept the “learning and defining the details as we go” style. However, a longer preparation time is a level of investment that is your preference but it is not required before your data governance implementation.
So what do we recommend for your preparation activities? Essentially, we suggest that the only thing you must do prior to selecting your technology is to define your Data Governance Strategy. Your Data Governance Strategy should address the outcome you desire to achieve through a data governance program. The strategy should define “Why” you are doing data governance and “Who” is involved and “When” (the roadmap). “Who” are the people and processes of data governance. Thinking about the outcome you desire should help guide your roadmap and make it easier to determine the scope to start your data governance implementation as well as subsequent on-boarding of the information governance resources. The details of “How”, “What” and “Where” questions and solutions should be identified as Roadmap activities.
Required Activities When Preparing for Data Governance
First, there are a few recommendations that we have received from CDOs. Again, the recommendations are that you really only need to establish your Data Governance Strategy. However, a good Data Governance Strategy includes many components.
General Items for your Data Governance Strategy
- Format of the strategy should be in 20-40 slides. Slides are easier to use for communications and a more agile format.
- The time horizon of strategy and the roadmap should be no more than 18 to 24 months.
- Set the expectations that you will revisit the strategy and roadmap every 6 months.
- Consider the audience of the strategy to include everyone in the organization for communications and educational opportunities.
- The Data Governance Steering Committee or Executive Council membership should be defined and potentially engaged to support and approve the strategy, if necessary.
- It should take no more than 6 to 12 weeks to define the strategy. Any longer is too much detail for a strategy.
Components of your Data Governance Strategy
- Data Governance Program Statement and Objectives
- Prioritized list of business use cases aligned to business projects. Benefits and risks may be defined for each use case. If you need a cost justification exercise , it should be done outside of the strategy so as not to delay the development of the strategy.
- Governance implementation roadmap based upon the business use cases and infrastructure requirements such as education should also be identified.
- The framework of a proposed data governance organization, as well as roles and responsibilities.
- An estimate of funding expectations for the activities in the roadmap.
- A communications plan and educational expectations will help establish the resources that need to be involved. Detailed process definition and technology education should be a roadmap step.
We also recommend that you include statements about why Data Quality and Data Controls will be included with the scope of data governance program. Additionally, be sure to include statements about why data quality fit-for-purpose metrics will be managed in a consistent manner through the data governance program. Please keep the strategy statements at “Why and Who” level. You should also include statements about why Data Privacy, Data Security, Data Retention, and Data Disposal will be monitored within the data governance strategy. While other organizations may define the policies for those, the operational activities identified in those policies will be communicated, monitored and measured for compliance by the data governance program. And finally, identify the strategy you anticipate to measure progress, metrics and maturity of the information governance program.
We suggest that the Collibra Data Governance platform will provide you with significant value that will speed up the definition of your governance program. Look at what Collibra provides you to escalate your definition for governance process, resource steps and activities, responsibilities, metrics, service level agreements, reporting, metadata integration, and lineage. Leverage our vast experience as soon as possible. As always, stay calm and allow your governance program to prosper.
Lowell is responsible for directing thought leadership and data governance advisory services for the Collibra Customer Success team. He has been a practitioner and executive in the data management industry for three decades. Lowell is a co-author of two books, a columnist and frequent conference speaker, as well as a contributor to the DAMA-I Book of Knowledge (DMBoK).