Data Governance Program Management: Herding Chickens – Really Important Chickens!

For the final facet of our data governance framework, I’ve intentionally saved Program Management for last.  I felt to fully demonstrate why your organization must invest in skilled program managers I should first introduce all the simultaneous moving parts that make up a comprehensive data governance strategy.  (For links to my posts deep diving into each facet, see my blog page). A multiphase, multiyear plan for starting small and growing into cross-enterprise, self-sustaining holistic data governance doesn’t manage itself. Whether through an official program management office (PMO) or one or more program drivers, data governance efforts need skilled project/program management professionals. 

It is important to recognize the significant amount of coordination, facilitation, and communication necessary to evangelize, prioritize, measure, and evolve data governance from a pilot project to a foundational way of doing business. Ultimately, this must be someone’s full-time job. Although the business must own and accept accountability for data governance, and the resulting policies, rules, and standards, the most significant coordination roles will often (of course not always) end up with IT, which typically offers the strongest program/project management skills within an organization. Because data governance is not always managed as a “program”, I describe this role as your Data Governance Driver.

The primary responsibilities of your data governance driver include:

  • Coordinating complex stakeholder interactions.  Cross-functional, cross-regional, and cross-business/IT collaboration is required to operationalize the discover, define, apply and measure & monitor stewardship processes that make up your data governance efforts.  
  • Building communications strategy. Driver must ensure appropriate messaging to share impactful decisions made by stewards to all relevant and impacted stakeholders.  Communication should be based on roles defined using a RACI/DACI responsibility assignment matrix approach.
  • Facilitating discussion and resolving conflict across stewards and sponsors.  The driver must be your primary point of escalation to executive sponsors and/or steering committee to ensure a clear summary of the issues and impacts – with recommended options – are coherently presented to senior leadership.
  • Providing education and training. As discussed in my previous post on Change Management, the driver must evangelize and help to realize the organizational behavior, process and technology change recommendations resulting from your data governance efforts.
  • Developing measurement strategy. The driver is responsible for figuring out how to effectively deliver the three necessary forms of data governance measurement as defined in my post “Measuring Data Governance: Lies, Damn Lies, and ROI.”

Finally, to reiterate what I shared in my post, “Data Governance Framework Walkthrough: By The People, For The People”:

The primary responsibility – and skill – of your data governance driver is to not care who wins.  The dark side of many data governance efforts is that it can be a politically-charged funfest of conflicting priorities and personalities (Awesome-sign me up!). The best way to mitigate this is to have a strong executive sponsor with a solid vision for how trusted, secure data will improve your business and an unbiased driver whose sole objective is to deliver upon that vision.

To learn more about skills and training necessary to build your program and project management competencies, as well as certification options, I highly recommend checking out The Project Management Institute or contacting with one of its many regional chapters.