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Keys to Establishing (or Maturing) a Governance Program

From my last blog entry, we have a starting point for working on the governance program (through conducting an assessment or audit and defining or confirming the strategy.) Now it is time to actually do something!

This blog is partially titled “establishing (or maturing)” because the structure and approach can be applied whether you are starting from scratch or working on improving or expanding an existing program. That being said, the basic structure and approach is essentially the same regardless of the goal, and so I will describe the concepts in terms generally applicable to both.

From an organizational perspective, I find it useful to break the work into two major streams: one to focus upon the setting up of the program itself, the infrastructure if you will; and the second to produce governance components using this new or modified infrastructure. This provides a number of benefits. Not only are you creating a robust “operating model” for the program, but you are also demonstrating how (well) it works and you produce real, usable artifacts for the enterprise – thereby providing benefits to the organization even as you are building the program.

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Within the “set-up” stream are activities that address things like the organizational structure, the management and prioritization of requests and activities, the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the program itself, planning communications, obtain sponsorship, etc. This may also delve into technology or tooling that can assist the program (such as the Governance Stewardship applications mentioned in a previous blog entry), but may just focus on the people and processes needed to run the program.

The “produce” stream consists of activities that result in the creation, modification or possibly even the proposed removal of the components identified as the responsibility of the governance program. The “offerings” if you will. If you recall a previous post, we talked about useful frameworks for organizing the program. In that I mentioned the Data Governance Institute’s Framework that I find very helpful. It talks about the components of the program – decision rights, rules, processes, etc. It is these components that this stream produces. Keep in mind that these items cannot be developed in a vacuum, so this stream will make significant use of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) throughout the organization, so be prepared to elicit, recruit, cajole or otherwise persuade individuals outside of the governance program itself to participate (remember the communication and obtaining sponsorship practices? Absolutely essential here.) What is equally important in this stream is to leverage the processes and structures (being) defined in the set-up stream. So, for example, if the defined approach is to spin-up a temporary working group to address a specific component (an approach I highly recommend), then use that approach for producing the designated component. A key to success here is also to address the highest value concerns or pain points identified in the assessment/audit as part of this initial effort. This will gain political capital that can then be used as you move the program into its operational mode.

To revisit the best (good) practices blog entry, these practices are applicable to both streams and should be used whenever possible. For example: a small wins, iterative approach should be employed whether you are working on the request intake process (set-up) or defining the rules and policies for adopting consistent data entry (produce.)

Finally, once things are up and running (set-up is complete), the “produce” stream essentially becomes part of the ongoing operating model as it pertains to governance artifact creation and maintenance. But, it is only one piece. Other aspects such as Communications, Measuring and Monitoring are also integral to a full-fledged Governance Program.

The next few blog entries will go a little deeper into each of these areas, where I’ll offer my thoughts as to what each of these are and what and how they produce their respective deliverable items. In my next episode, I’ll take a look at the artifacts produced. So, stay tuned!

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Mark Steinbacher

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