Data governance is an organized discipline of people, process, and technology supporting a company’s data. Starting with data governance needs to be small enough that it is manageable but large enough that it makes an impact. Trying to govern too much at once can be overwhelming when you are starting. However, tackling something too small may not yield any results and give the feeling of time wasted. For example, if you decide to govern member data in a single department of your credit union, you will quickly find that you get member data from other departments, so you may need to govern those departments as well. Also, there may be other departments that use the member data this department provides, so governance quickly becomes something that has a company-wide impact.
When you are thinking about what to govern, think about data domains. A data domain is a significant grouping of data that is important to you. Common data domains are member, vendor, employee, product, location, and chart of accounts.
When you think about who to involve in data governance, you must look across the organization at all business functions. This makes sense because your employees across the organization are using the same data. For instance, someone might find a member as a prospect, while someone else helps them to get a car loan, and another person eventually helps them with a mortgage. The same member will receive various marketing materials over time and interact with employees in other departments regarding payments products or other member services. Throughout these interactions, employees are touching the data, updating it, adding new data to it, and so on. Since there isn’t just one group interacting with the data, you must recognize the collaborative environment that is necessary for effective data governance.
There are three main challenges with data governance – identifying why you’re governing something, determining what to govern, and identifying who should be involved in data governance.
Identifying the why – Knowing why you’re governing something is essential because it gives you your purpose/vision. It also gives you the story you need to tell people when you’re recruiting them to participate in data governance. Identifying why is also crucial if you need funding for the effort to cover costs associated with hiring consultants or purchasing tools.
Identifying the what – After you define your scope for governance, document it in your charter so there are clear expectations. If you’re going to use templates, create those. If you need tools, buy and configure them. If you’re building from scratch, document your requirements first before building and don’t forget to test.
Identifying the who – Think about the reach of your organization and who needs to be involved. You need to have the complete support of people who are involved in the data you’re governing.
Data governance isn’t difficult, but it requires organization. Careful planning will go a long way in making it a success. Take the time to prepare and don’t jump ahead before you’re ready.