Using a governance playbook to drive data steward maturity

Data Governance Playbook

Using a Data Governance Playbook to Drive Data Steward MaturityIt’s always exciting to have new individuals join the data governance organization. For most companies, these new individuals will have a part-time role in data governance. Many of those individuals will be data content owners or data stewards. They have limited time to allocate to their data governance tasks, and are often very concerned with the responsibilities they have just “accepted.”  The concept of a data governance playbook may be exactly what is needed to on-board these individuals and help them become productive quickly.

It is the responsibility of the governance core team to on-board these individuals and establish a clear understanding of the responsibilities and activities that are expected from them. However, just providing the list of responsibilities is not always helpful to the individuals that are new to data governance. Some of the significant challenges facing new governance members are:

  • Understanding what activities they are responsible for
  • Knowing how to complete those tasks
  • Understanding in what sequence those tasks should be done
  • Knowing what the deliverables are and what technology they should use

We often hear questions such as the following:

  • The responsibilities are extensive. What do I need to do first, then second, and so on?
  • I’m not sure how I should go about doing these tasks?
  • When do these tasks need to be completed? Can they wait until next month?
  • What training do we have that explains the processes in detail?
  • What is the input and expected outcome of each task?
  • Who do I need to involve or collaborate with to accomplish these processes?
  • Which technology will I use? Do I only use Collibra Data Governance Center?

For those of us who’ve worked on data governance teams for a while, we may forget that the terminology for data governance sounds like a foreign language to many new individuals. We are expecting them to “be accountable for the language of the business terms,” yet they are not clear on what is expected of them. While Collibra has a wealth of education, these individuals many not have the time to leverage the Collibra Community and the Collibra University courses. Thus, the data governance team must provide a more effective approach for on-boarding new governance members.

Now, some organizations may have a slide deck that helps with guidance. Others have a list of activities that are expected of the data stewards. But for most business individuals new to data governance, they need more. Again, the concept of a data governance playbook may be exactly what is needed to on-board these individuals and help them become productive quickly.

A data governance playbook describes each activity in terms of the inputs and entrance criteria, the processes to be completed, who is accountable for the tasks, and the interactions required. It also outlines the deliverables, quality expectations, data controls, and exit criteria.  Each activity may also have a preceding and successor activity to identify the necessary sequence of activities. The data governance playbook provides a way to improve and add to the abilities of key people throughout the organization so that they may manage, improve, and control data and analytics. The playbook construct has been used by a variety of practitioners and analysts to describe a dizzying array of activities, technologies, and methods with very little empirical structure or discipline.

The data governance playbook should provide methods for assessing, deploying, and operationalizing key aspects of data and analytics management. Getting work done using standard methods across a defined scope and obtaining key outcomes from that work would be indicative of a capability maturity level being reached. We have found that we need to adjust the capability levels so that our framework is unique and specific to the domains of data we are working on. Our focus also highlights the measurement of outcomes as indicators of reaching certain levels of ability and maturity over time, rather than simply measuring activity as a reflection of improving capabilities. Our business goals always drive our technical work, so we measure outcomes from the work to show both business impact and value as well as capability improvements. In this way, capability improvement actually reflects the aggregate of business outcomes and value produced.

A key to success is understanding that individuals typically do not reach specific capability levels at the same time across the entire business and that this condition does not indicate any loss or inefficiency. Rather, it indicates real-world situations that individual lines of business and cross-functional areas face as they adopt stewardship and governance methods.

For additional information on creating a data governance playbook for your organization contact And, you can find my recently-published book, The Data and Analytics Playbook (ISBN 9780128023075), at the Elsevier bookstore or on