I recently read Data Governance Remains Immature by Rob Karel, where he wrote about “the growing recognition that data governance is not—and should never have been—about the data.” Although I definitely agree with that statement, I don’t agree with his next statement “so what is data governance all about? It’s all about business process, of course.”
In fairness, everyone has their own definition of data governance—perhaps this is a reflection of the data governance maturity issue, about which I also agree with Rob.
From my perspective, the primary focus of data governance is the strategic alignment of people throughout the organization through the definition, and enforcement, of policies in relation to data access, data sharing, data quality, and effective data usage, all for the purposes of supporting critical business decisions and enabling optimal business performance.
Therefore, in my worldview, data governance involves policies, people, business processes, data, and of course, technology.
However, all of those last four concepts (people, business process, data, technology) are critical to every enterprise initiative.
So, from my perspective, the key concept differentiating data governance is—Policy.
And as Rob rightfully points out, confusion will inevitably arise from the very name “data governance,” from which you have to admit, it makes perfect sense that people assume it must be all about “governing data.”
It’s really all about policies, which declare what data governance really governs, the (often complex) ways that people, business process, data, and technology interact.
A data governance policy can involve any combination of people, business process, data, and technology, and sometimes—all four of them.
This topic, combined with the recent Fourth of July holiday here in the United States (which was also my birthday—Happy Birthday to me! ), made me decide to channel my inner Thomas Jefferson (the primary author of the Declaration of Independence), and thereby write the following Declaration of Data Governance.
Declaration of Data Governance
When in the course of Business Maturity, it becomes necessary for one Organization to dissolve the Political Barriers which have separated their Business Units from each other, and to assume among the Powers of the Enterprise, the united and shared Purpose to which the Laws of Human Nature and for The Greater Corporate Good guide them, and with always a decent Respect to the Opinions of all People, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to implement Data Governance.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Data is a Corporate Asset, owned by the entire Enterprise, and endowed by its Data Stewards with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Data Quality Standards, Business Relevant Metrics, and the pursuit of a Shared Version of the Truth.
That to secure these Rights, Policies are instituted among People, Business Processes, Data, and Technology, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed to abide by them, and that whenever any Policy disrupts optimal business performance, it is the Right of the Data Governance Board to refine or remove it, and to institute a new Policy, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect its Measurement and Enforcement.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Policies long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Data Governance Maturity Models have shown, that Enterprises are more disposed to adopt a Data Governance Framework when it is tailored to fit the Unique Corporate Culture to which they are accustomed.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the People, Business Processes, Data, and Technology of this Enterprise, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of this Organization, solemnly Publish and Declare, that this Data Governance Program is, and by Right ought to be, our new Enterprise Standard of Excellence.
For the support of this Declaration of Data Governance, and with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the Human Side of Business, we now mutually pledge to each other, our Communication, our Collaboration, and our Trust. So Say We All.
Sign the Declaration of Data Governance
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