SO WHAT?! About Data Governance
November 20, 2018
If 2018 was “The Year of Data,” What Will 2019 Have in Store?
January 2, 2019

Part II – Organizational Tips for Data Governance

Corey Mellick, CEO at Amplifi

In a previous post, we discussed Data Governance as a business strategy for maximizing the value of the business’ data while minimizing the risks of bad data. We described myriad benefits to a company including increased competitiveness, reduced operational friction, and regulatory compliance. Implementation of that strategy will not only entail technology, in the form of an MDM platform but the establishment of the right organizational roles and responsibilities. Identifying the right technology is the easy part, well sometimes, but identifying and addressing the right organizational roles is often where we see implementations run aground. As with most business strategies, people tend to be the difference between success and failure. The challenge in MDM is that most organizations don’t know what roles are needed. They tend to view MDM as an IT or technology initiative when in reality it is a transformational, collaborative initiative that requires clearly defined roles within IT and the Business to ensure success. Of course, the organizational needs will vary from company to company, but there are some common roles in an MDM initiative to consider. Below we will identify some of these critical roles you should be considering when building your data governance team.

  • Data Governance Committee – Given the cross-functional nature of MDM, and the potential impacts it can have on the organization, you will likely want to have a committee responsible for oversight and evolution of your Data Governance strategy. The committee should include representation from various cross-functional business teams such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, Operations and IT. It should contain levels that include Executive sponsorship, Data Custodian or Trustees, and Data Stewards whose roles are to translate strategy and business objectives into MDM and organizational requirements that ensure the integrity of the data can be trusted and consumed across the enterprise. The development of a charter for the committee defines the committee’s roles, responsibilities and communication plans to senior management and the organization.
  • Executive Sponsors – This is the C-Suite (CIO, CTO, CFO, or CEO) representation and sponsorship for the MDM initiative. They provide the corporate strategic direction and prioritization, funding for data management and quality programs and promotes enterprise strategy across businesses and data subject areas.
  • Data Custodian(s) or Trustee(s) – These are the respective owners of data from across the organization and tend to be senior level positions. They are the people within a given functional organization who have planning, policy-level and management oversight responsibility for data in their area and help in setting direction and prioritization.
  • Data Steward(s) – This is a significant group of people to consider. They exist in most of your functional groups, such as Sales, Marketing, Operations, etc., and represent the hands-on, operational subject matter expertise tasked with managing that groups data and related processes. For example, take new product setup. This may be the responsibility of Marketing, R&D, Operations, etc., in your organization today. There is no doubt one or more Data Stewards in that organization, albeit they may not be called that, who are the go-to people for all things related to system setup of new products. The Data Governance Committee typically identifies these as your Data Stewards who follow the objectives of the strategy.

These are the primary roles to be accounted for when building a data governance team, however, several other key roles will phase in and out of your governance program at various points during the implementation of your MDM strategy. These include:

  • Project Manager – When implementing something as broad as an MDM initiative can be, it is usually helpful to have an individual responsible for execution. Most often this role comes from IT or a dedicated PMO organization and reports progress, issues, needs, etc. to the Data Governance Committee. This role is crucial during the early stages of implementation to ensure the MDM project is adequately resourced, and expectations are appropriately set.
  • Data or Information Architect – This person works with the Business Analysts to identify objects and data elements to be managed, taxonomies or classification structures to be created, and outputs to support identified use cases. They also work closely with IT to develop the data models, data rules, and processes to be instantiated in the MDM platform.
  • MDM Administrator – This person is responsible for all aspects of the MDM platform to include end-user satisfaction. MDM is not a one-and-done type of initiative, it will evolve with the organization, and there needs to be a deep understanding of the MDM platform on the team. View this person as your resident expert in the capabilities and best practices of your chosen MDM platform.
  • System/Database Administrator(s) – This role is responsible for storage, capacity planning, and installation, configuration and performance tuning of the underlying database.
  • Integration Specialist – By its very nature MDM will interact with other systems in the organization. Consuming data from some, and feeding data to others. This person is responsible for developing the integration approach for each touch point. This should include both the method of integration and frequency of data exchange. If your organization has an existing ETL or EAI backbone, it will usually be someone with a technical understanding of that tool.
  • Developers – This will be a limited role in support of customizations (“complex configurations” in software sales terms) identified by the PM and/or the MDM Administrator. This can include custom data manipulation rules, user screens, or other requirements beyond simple configuration options.

You have developed a sound Data Governance strategy and selected the appropriate MDM platform; however, you can’t assume that people understand what role they play. Like any transformational initiative, change can cause hesitation. Take the time to define and communicate the roles and responsibilities at the outset. A RACI chart is often a helpful tool in the process to organize and deliver the plan. Extend your communication, not just to a select group, but to the whole company to gain organizational understanding and support.

As we said at the beginning, every company is different. You may find that a single person fills multiple roles we’ve defined here, or that a group of people fill a unique role, or that you don’t have an in-house resource that fits a particular role. Not to worry. The Data Custodians and Data Stewards will almost always be in-house resources, but every other role we have described could be filled in partnership with a data consultancy. If you don’t have a trusted data consultancy, trust Amplifi to put together a balanced approached combining your in-house expertise with our highly experienced consultants to ensure success. Reach out today to talk about how we can help.