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The Scope of Data Governance

I recently reviewed the course materials for a class titled “A Step by Step Guide to Enterprise Data Governance” taught by Mike Ferguson at the TDWI Munich conference in June. Mike did a tremendous job covering the full scope of the data governance topic.

Mike defines enterprise data governance as “the set of processes by which structured and unstructured data assets are formally managed and protected by people and technology to guarantee commonly understood trusted and secure data throughout the enterprise.”

The elements that Mike puts in the data governance bucket are: data definitions and shared business vocabulary; metadata management; data modeling, data quality; data integration; master data management; data security; content management; and taxonomy design and maintenance.

This is a big vision, and certainly elevates the discussion to its proper perspective: that is, data is a business asset and it’s the responsibility of business to oversee and manage this resource. The corollary here is that IT plays a supporting, not supervisory, role in managing the company’s data.

Central to Mike’s vision of enterprise data governance is a Change Control Board, which is the “gatekeeper” for the shared business vocabulary. This board, which is comprised of data stewards from the business, is responsible for approving requests to change, add, or decommission data items. Implicit in this is that the Change Control Board manages data names and definitions, transformation rules, and data quality rules. And these get baked into data models, BI metadata, MDM models, and taxonomies.

Given how fundamental data is to a business (whether it knows it or not), it’s imperative that a senior executive oversee the data governance team that is comprised of senior business managers and stewards. Maria Villar, owner of MCV LLC, writes, “A business data steward is a leadership position…. who understands the importance of data to their part of the business.” (See “Establishing Effective Business Data Stewards” in the spring 2009 edition of the BI Journal.)

Villar says a business data steward “understands the priorities and strategies of the business unit, commands respect within the organization, builds consensus across a varied set of business priorities; influences and drives changes to business processes, enjoys strong support from senior business leaders, can communicate to business and technical teams, and builds a diverse team of technical and business data experts.

Now that we have the verbiage straight, we have to execute on the vision. And that will keep us busy for years to come!


Posted by Wayne Eckerson on July 14, 2009


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