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One of the most critical aspects of an effective Data Governance implementation is having a comprehensive Data Governance policy. The need for a policy is often considered a bureaucratic burden. Like a charter, all governance groups seem forced to have these two governing documents as a license to exist.
The truth is that an effective Data Governance policy defines the objectives and guidelines that are the foundation of data and information within an organization. It becomes the glue that binds all aspects of Data Governance and sets forth a rallying call for action. The scope of a Data Governance policy applies to the definition, usage, and control framework of data, regardless of the location or format of the data. This policy applies to storage locations both on-premise, within a cloud, or with a third-party services provider.
For many years, we would define a Data Governance policy midway through a governance engagement. The thinking was that we had to spend time to reach a common governance vocabulary, and then learn the organizational structure and objectives before we could draft the Data Governance policy. Without fail, the resulting Data Governance policy was 90 percent the same when all was said and done.
We have since learned to walk into the door of a client with the draft policy in hand. This focused approach provides immediate context and gives folks something to challenge. Instead of theoretical discussions on governance vocabulary, the dialogue is around understanding the terms in the policy document. Anyone who has ever worked on a path puzzle knows that it is much faster to start at the end and work backward to the beginning. There are fewer choices, so the solution is more apparent. We found the same with leading engagement with the draft Data Governance policy. This approach fast tracks awareness of what needs to be done to move Data Governance forward.
A strong Data Governance policy establishes the standard method for assigning and documenting ownership and definitions for structured and unstructured data assets. Implementation of the Data Governance policy protects against inconsistencies and errors in, misuse, or misinterpretation of an organization’s data. A Data Governance policy provides the “teeth” needed to drive and sustain change.
Below are the major sections of a comprehensive Data Governance policy:
- Guiding Principles
- Foundational Elements
- Organizational Roles and Responsibilities
- The Dream Team
- Technology Enablement
- Governing Vocabulary
In subsequent blogs, we will explore each of these sections. What do they include and exclude? What has worked to achieve business and technical objectives, and what fails? What is the role of business rules (metadata) to bring these areas into a living model for success? How can they shift the perception from Data Governance as a regulatory burden to the shining solution towards trusted data? How can Data Governance and Information Governance be integrated into a comprehensive umbrella?