The Data Governance Journey – Part 1- Getting Started

Our organization is finally (YAY!!) embarking on a Data Governance program and I’d like to share the saga journey with you. If you are unfamiliar with my story here are the basics:

  • Due to a CRM initiative there was an agreed upon corporate need for Data Quality
  • I was asked to lead the development of the program and establish the team
  • The business functional areas agreed that data quality was needed but were not in a position to sponsor or champion the initiative
  • The program and team had executive IT sponsorship
  • In 4 years the team established a solid program and raised considerable awareness, but due to lack of business sponsorship or a champion much of the work was re-active.

Now, due to a major data related initiative, the corporation has once again agreed that data quality is an issue that needs to be resolved in order for the initiative to be successful. But what’s different this time is that the agreement was formalized.

How we achieved this

A series of workshops were established where those who had agreed that data quality was a critical success factor for the corporate initiative were asked to attend. The workshops were a series of facilitated meetings where different stakeholders were asked to identify goals and objectives, roadblocks and risks and what are the things they felt would enable them to achieve their objectives. The outcomes that resulted were varied but what was obvious were the common themes around their data;  ‘accountability’, ‘establishment of formal policies and compliance processes’, ‘a senior cross functional decision body’, and ‘Training and Communication’, all components of a Data Governance Program. Success measures were also a part of the workshop and agreement was reached on those as well. The final workshop was used to confirm what was agreed upon, what the success measures were and recommended next steps.

Key Strategies

  • Use cross functional workshops to formalize the common themes stakeholders have already informally agreed upon.
  • External consultants help facilitate the process by using subject matter expertise to guide the alignment between business and IT.
  • Always be sure to identify agreed upon success measures.
  • Once agreement is achieved confirm, confirm, confirm the outcomes and next steps.
  • Document the outcomes, agreements, next steps and communicate to the organization.
  • Be sure to include the process to establish funding as a next step.

The Challenges

Most of the stakeholders that were needed to participate are mostly at the senior level and so their availability was a challenge.

What we did

  • Reinforcement of the verbal stakeholder agreements, the corporation’s business objectives and how quality data will help achieve those objectives really helped. Once the first workshop took place everyone was keen to continue and so it got easier to obtain their participation in later sessions.

That’s it so far….I imagine things may get a little more interesting as we get into the development of the program. 

Be sure and tune in for the next episode: Part 2 – Overcoming (the first set of) obstacles.

14 thoughts on “The Data Governance Journey – Part 1- Getting Started

  1. Dylan Jones

    That’s such exciting news Jill, congratulations.

    Great example of cross-party working to get commitment – now comes the fun part!

    Keep us updated, great to hear these announcements from someone battling in the trenches.

    – Dylan

  2. Jim Harris

    Great post, Jill.

    The use of a series of cross-functional workshops to identify goals and objectives, as well as roadblocks and risks, is such a vitally important way to effectively start the data governance journey.

    I echo Dylan’s comment about how it’s great to hear these types of real-world stories from someone battling in the trenches.

    I am looking forward to reading the entire series!

    Best Regards,


    1. kenoconnordataconsultant

      Hi Jill,

      One month on (from your Aug 18 post) – How are things progressing?
      Any surprises over the past month? Disappointments? Challenges overcome? Low-hanging fruit picked?

      I’m really keen to hear from your front line experience with this Data Governance initiative.

      Marty Mosely and Winston Chen have started a good discussion about “concensus on what Data Governance means” See:

      What is your definition of “Data Governance” in your organisation? Does it align with Winston’s “simple take”, which I quote below:
      – Data governance is the business process of defining, implementing and enforcing data policies.
      – Data governance is about data policy. Data management, like MDM, is about data.
      – MDM executes the data policies defined through data governance.

      Rgds Ken

      1. sheezaredhead Post author

        Thanks for the great questions Ken! I can’t believe it’s been (now) over a month since the initial post.

        I’ve actually started the next post on this subject and it answers a lot of your questions. Look for it in the next 5 days or so.

        Of specific interest is your comment on ‘what is the definition of Data Governance’ at our organization. This will probably be the title of the post as it has had the greatest impact on how things are (and are not) progressing.

        Thanks again for the great comments and please continue! They are much appreciated!

  3. Pingback: The Data Governance Journey – Part 2 – What is taking so long? « Data Quality From The Ground Up

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