The Data Governance Council is the body that governs your organization’s data governance policies, guides and advises your data strategy, prioritizes and approves your data governance initiatives and projects, and offers ongoing support for these.

Today, organizations everywhere are taking data governance far more seriously. The ones that are ahead of the curve are working actively on making their governance programs more streamlined and effective to reap maximum benefits. According to ObservePoint’s 2018 analytics and data governance report, organizations with executives in charge of data governance have expressed 43% greater confidence in data than those that did not.

If you are considering setting up a data governance program for your organization, you would certainly have come across the term Data Governance Council (DGC). What is this really? What purpose does it serve? Do all organizations that take data governance seriously need a DGC? And if so, how do you go about creating it? We answer these questions in this blog post.

What is a Data Governance Council?

The DGC is the body that governs your organization’s data governance policies, guides and advises your data strategy, prioritizes and approves your data governance initiatives and projects, and offers ongoing support for these.

In one way or another, most organizations today are already handling, governing and managing data. However, it’s typically informal in a majority of cases. The advantages of formalizing data governance are many:

  • Better understanding of data governance across the organization
  • Standard procedures and processes followed org-wide
  • Easier collaboration and inter-unit/cross-functional facilitation
  • More effective means of addressing data issues and breaches.

Hence the need for a formal governing body, a.k.a. the Data Governance Council.

The DGC is the body that governs your organization’s data governance policies, guides and advises your data strategy, prioritizes and approves your data governance initiatives and projects, and offers ongoing support for these. Depending on the organization, a DGC is variously called a DG committee, a data owners council, or a data stewardship committee/council.

Roles and responsibilities of the DGC

The form and function of the DGC stands on three critical legs: Business, People, and Technology.

Its exact roles depend on the data governance framework your organization chooses to follow, but the overall responsibilities of a typical DGC include:

  • Overseeing the company’s data governance program at a strategic level
    • Approve and prioritize projects
    • Set project goals and measurable outcomes
    • Have a tab on the project progress
  • Facilitating good data governance within the organization
    • Establish clear data ownerships and accountabilities
    • Approve data standards, processes, and rules
    • Identify best practices, tools and benchmarks for these
    • Resolve enterprise-level data issues
    • Ensure smooth communication regarding data between business and functional units
    • Facilitate collaboration over data
  • Evangelizing good data governance
    • Promote the goals and objectives of the organization’s data governance program
    • Create awareness and garner financial and other support for these initiatives
    • Work towards building a data centric culture org-wide.
      Composition of the DGC

Given that this is a committee that makes high-level decisions, it needs to be cross-functional, with data representatives from various business units and functions. 

It also needs to have a tactical team that handles everyday data decisions involving the translation of policies into practice.

If the DGC is too small, you may have some teams that will feel under-represented. If it’s too big, you are at risk of having an unwieldy, unmanageable team with a higher chance of disagreements. So, before forming this team, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will be the major goals of the DGC?
  • Which stakeholders will need to be represented here?
  • What will they be doing on an everyday basis? How often will they meet? What will they do between meetings?
  • What kind of support can they expect from the rest of the organization and from whom specifically?
  • How will the DGC fit into the larger organizational structure? Who will have authority and veto powers in which circumstances?

Defining these is crucial to forming an empowered, agile, democratic Data Governance Council.

The place of the DGC in the organization’s structure

How does this council fit into your organization’s structure? Who has higher authority and under what circumstances? Really, there is no one single answer. 

The Data Governance Institute cites some examples of how various organizations have designed the DGC as a:

  • Round table with data stakeholders from different teams
  • Parallel unit to the org structure with dotted relationships at different points
  • Centrepoint of the organization, supporting and governing all other units and functions

Ultimately, this depends upon your organization’s structure, governance goals, and needs. With our 3-phase data governance strategy, we assess these, identify the challenges and constraints, and help you implement a business-aligned data governance program. If you’d like to speak with our expert team, do get in touch.

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