30 May 2017
The objective is to create a centralized, highly standardized, and tightly controlled data governance function in the enterprise. By centralizing control of the data, enterprise wide concerns can be addressed. Resolving differences in definitions and interpretations of data will begin the process of providing management with the information it needs to make informed and effective decisions. Data will be designed to meet corporate needs, rather than specific application needs.
A first step of making data available is to convince leadership that data is an asset and must be handled as a valuable corporate resource. This implies that data must be understood throughout the enterprise, and must be reflected in all policies and procedures. This immediately brings data owners and data stewards in the picture. Their role is important, residing in the business community they are responsible for managing the data on a day-to-day basis. Every knowledge worker is responsible for the accuracy of data, and they should apply the definition and rules defined by the data governance organization.
Data owners and stewards are responsible for data classification. Not every data element has the same use or priorities. Usually data gets classified in corporate or local data, to identify how the data needs to be handled. This does not mean that local data is not important, but usually different data standards apply for the simple reason that its impact on the organization is local, whereas corporate data are shared across the entire enterprise. A corporate data asset’s definition, both semantic and syntactic, must be able to accommodate the widest possible usage while retaining a specific business meaning.
One aspect in the data strategy that is often forgotten is data redundancy. Copies of data will always be required to make data available and accessible. As a general principle, the goal should be to have as few copies of data as possible and, required. Preferably, all copies of data must be direct copies of a single master. The data definition of copies should not be changed. The data governance group needs to help ensure that all data and data editing rules are properly addressed by providing one central point of definition and issue resolution. Why a central point? Awareness of existing data and its definitions will facilitate sharing of data across the enterprise. Legacy systems are typically the biggest risk of uncontrolled data duplication. To mitigate this risk use of legacy systems must be limited to the absolute minimum, wherever possible.
To conclude, a centralized approach does not mean that issue resolution can be done application by application for the simple reason that legacy systems are no longer part of the current application systems but only used for reporting. Another reason is that some applications have only a local function. Nevertheless, data elements considered as corporate should be handled as any other data element. If necessary, new data stores can be created instead of integration with existing ones.