Once we’ve identified, allocated and trained our Data Owners then we’re done, right? Wrong! This is exactly the time we need to be mentoring that group as their role is not entirely intuitive.

Why is that? Well Data Owners should be members of your organisations senior leadership team with functional accountability for a domain.  That’s a great start, but their data governance role extends beyond that and across the organisation. Inhabiting the owner role may deliver a dis-benefit to their own functional area.

That’s a whole other post, but today I’m focussing on their other primary responsibility: empowering their stewards. The question Nicola Askham and I are repeatedly asked when training stewards is ‘where does the time for all this new work come from?

The answer is your data owner. It is within their gift to prioritise the governance activities over existing activities. Failing to do so puts the whole framework in jeopardy.  So almost their first activity must be to reassure the stewards in their domain.  We’ve developed a template to cover off the most important themes:

  • Our organisation is fundamentally going to way it manages and uses its data.
  • This is recognised and supported at the top of the organisation and it is a priority
  • The reasons we’re prioritising it are: lower cost of operation, higher trust in data, developing new insights, staff motivation, customer experience, etc. We are also protecting ourselves against internal and external risk.
  • As a steward your role is key and pivotal. You are the acknowledged expert in ‘a data domain‘.  I recognise and respect that. As a result I will be giving you the time and authority to use that skills and knowledge for the benefit of everyone who works here.
  • However, this is not a new job, A good part of it you already do now. The difference is now you have a strong mandate from me. We will work together to manage your workload to ensure you have everything you need to be a success in the role.
  • There is training available. This will give you an excellent understanding of how the role fits into the wider picture and how you will fit within that.
  • Once you’ve completed your training, we’ll sit down again and talk through how to make this happen.

This does presuppose you are intending to train your owners and stewards. If you’re not, then that’s a whole other set of problems you’ll be dealing with!

We make no apologies for reiterating that successful data governance is a people led change. If you don’t invest in those people, you won’t be successful.