One of the key first steps in launching a successful data governance program is securing executive buy-in. Drafting a project charter can help you communicate the importance of data governance to senior executives.

A project charter is the document of collective agreement for a data governance initiative.

A project charter organizes the data governance project so that you can make efficient and effective resource allocation decisions. It communicates with details about the project purpose, scope definition, and the project parameters. It defines the organization’s thought process, minimizes miscommunication, and brings everyone on the same page. It will help you designate targets to contributors in a project.

It conveys the nitty-gritties of a particular project and gives a complete overview to the team members, stakeholders and sponsors, ensuring crystal clear communication between everyone involved. Think of it as a virtual project manager whose most important function is to develop the project on a solid foundation.

What would a project charter contain?

A well-thought-out project charter will have these elements:

  1. A vision statement
  2. A mission statement
  3. The purpose of the project
  4. Risks and appropriate mitigation strategy
  5. A cross-functional project team
  6. Stakeholders and RACI matrix
  7. Timeline
  8. Project metrics
  9. Review and approval

Vision

Before you start “walking” data governance, you need the entire organization to “talk” data governance. This is the purpose of the charter: to clearly state and socialize with the business the vision and mission statement of the project. Ensure that you don’t develop these crucial statements and goals in isolation. Consult the business units to identify the drivers of the data governance program. A unified business-IT understanding of the 3-5 year high-level plan and the objectives is necessary for the sustenance of your data governance program.

Mission and purpose

Having a mission statement for your data governance program outlines the ‘whats’ of data governance: what it will accomplish, what it does for the business, and what it will do to improve the organization’s strategic use of its data.

Some other examples include:

  • Align data initiatives with corporate strategies to promote consistent organizational goals.
  • Effectively manage and maintain data resources, ensuring the integrity, reliability, availability, and compliance of organizational data and information.
  • Decrease the risk of data misuse through the implementation of policies and procedures.
  • Increase adherence to regulatory requirements and improve the overall security of organizational data.

Risks and mitigation strategy

Most projects have risks and other factors that can affect the progress of the project. Brainstorm the likely pitfalls of data governance: Who is likely to push back? What capabilities will be difficult to revise? For each risk, identify possible mitigation steps. Include the output in the project charter.

The right team, stakeholders and RACI

A talented team is crucial to the timely completion of the project.  It is important to remember that you need a cross-functional team that encompasses both IT (various units) and the business.

Once you’ve brought the team together, determine who would be responsible for, accountable for, consulted, or informed (RACI) about each overarching project step. Communicate your results to relevant stakeholders and obtain their approval. Use the above chart to list down the names of the corresponding team members in each column.

In a project, each stakeholder has a distinct purpose and role. The charter should make clear the levels of authority they can operate without getting a sign-off from project sponsors or the senior management. The responsibility and the role of each team member and their reporting relationship with the project manager should also be clearly defined. To do so, create a RACI chart to delineate stakeholder involvement for different phases and levels of support.

Project timeline

Develop your timeline for the data governance project and specify concrete milestones. It is important to remember and consider dependencies when creating the schedule and identify appropriate subtasks.

Goals and objectives and metrics

While every organization’s data governance objectives are different, it is crucial for an organization to identify the right metrics that an organization can use to measure its data governance success. Your organization’s data governance success metrics must be aligned with your overall business goals. This will ensure that the executive management and executive sponsors are constantly engaged because they are seeing actionable results. While each project charter will have unique metrics, you can follow the steps and the table to list down below to understand how to get started:

  1. Establish metrics for both the business and IT that will be used to determine if the data governance program is effective.
  2. Set targets for each metric.
  3. Collect current data to calculate the metrics and establish a baseline.
  4. Assign an owner for tracking each metric as well as someone to be accountable for performance.

Final Sign-off

A program charter is more like a validation document for your data governance project, which enables sponsors and managers to go back to it during the course of the project to monitor or revise any changes in the project.

However, before commencing the data governance project, it is important to validate the program charter and metrics with senior sponsors or stakeholders and receive their consent to proceed. Commence the project only once your get a final sign-off on your project charter from all the stakeholders.

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