Defining the Target Audience for the Data Governance Policy

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Click to learn more about author Steve Zagoudis.

In my last blog, we discussed that one of the most critical aspects of an effective Data Governance implementation is having a comprehensive Data Governance policy. This blog is going to dig deeper into the Data Governance policy by defining the approach to determine the target audience needed to define and ratify the policy. Getting the right people to the table can make or break any initiative, and a Data Governance policy is no exception.


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We have found it is critical to know your audience when implementing an effective Data Governance policy (and speak to them in their language). The key is to develop a keen sense of awareness as to the stakeholders for any domain or subject area of data. In a traditional stewardship model, data owners or data stewards will be determined. But what about data consumers? Data consumers are often the largest beneficiary of effective Data Governance. This awareness requires knowing the source and use of data and information across the organization. And this awareness needs to be captured as a series of metadata relationships in order to be maintainable to reflect the ever-changing organizational structures.

In our practice, MetaGovernance uses the term “registered governance stakeholder” to specify a business unit that has a vested interest in a subject area of data. This role could be a data owner, data delegate, data consumer, data custodian, or auditor. Regardless of role, they have a vested interest in the quality and availability of data and information. Determining these stakeholders is a combination of formal interviews as part of other project work or just capturing tribal knowledge heard in the hallway or elevator. 

With any business process improvement or system project, there is a vast amount of awareness generated about the relationship between business and the data. Unfortunately, much of this knowledge is lost due to a lack of governance discipline. 

Data Governance implementation is often facilitated by a working group or a more formal committee. For the sake of this blog, we will call this the Data Governance committee (DGC). The Data Governance policy will stipulate that the DGC defines governance roles as part of the Data Governance oversight. The DGC will designate the following registered governance stakeholders for each subject area: data owner, data delegate, data consumer, and data custodian, and ensure there is staffing allocated for the collection and maintenance of this awareness metadata.

The registration aspect of the registered governance stakeholder is a process that is built into the operational procedures of a Data Governance committee or council. In more advanced organizations, the registration process is integrated into a project management methodology.

Defining the target audience for a Data Governance policy is all about knowing the players across the organization that are potential stakeholders. These stakeholders may well be external to the organization, typically as consumers. The Security Exchange Commission or any government regulatory body are examples of such consumers. People within your company already know this information or have documented it in process maps, procedures, and other governing documents. A critical success factor for an effective Data Governance policy is to harvest this awareness to get the right players to the discussion. As always, the 80/20 rule applies when determining awareness. The missing 20 percent will seek you out when they hear of the initiative so as not to be left out of the awareness chain. 

In the next blog, we will outline the first three chapters of a Data Governance policy, namely Introduction, Purpose, and Scope. We will also outline the differences between a Data Governance policy and an information governance policy that bridges into the world of unstructured data.

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