Fit Data Governance into Your Higher Education Institution's Culture

Fit Data Governance into Your Higher Education Institution's Culture

In this blog post we’ll discuss the institution culture that will maximize the benefit of data governance at all levels. And that data governance needs to be a part of your institution’s culture.

We’re hoping that your culture consists of the following:

  1. Helping People
  2. Communication and Engagement
  3. Empowerment and Training of Employee
  4. Change and Action



First some definitions. Culture is shared values plus beliefs plus norms plus behavior. Culture happens over time. A norm is how you do things in your institution. Behaviors are beliefs turned into action. Higher education institutions usually have a culture of helping and guiding which usually applies to their current students but should also carry over to prospective students, staff, faculty, partners, community and alumni.

Now some thoughts on culture and data governance:

  • You need to look at if your institution can execute data governance. You do this by looking at your culture.
  • Use data governance tools and processes that fit your institution’s (or department’s) culture.
  • Observe what leadership values and rewards. If helping others and improving staff is not a focus than work to fix this first. The key is to spend time focusing on what is important.
  • Institutions that have a clear culture and strategy are more likely to be successful. If your culture is right, the data governance initiative will go smoothly.

Let’s discuss more about our culture areas:

Helping People
Data governance should help people, including those on staff. It is not about control. Higher education institutions strive for a culture of helping people to make the world a better place. Tie your data governance program to helping people. Use data to understand your current students, staff, faculty, partners, prospective students and alumni. Use data to make informed decisions. Better decisions should save time, lower costs and increase satisfaction. Help staff with easy to use processes (such as those on problems with data quality or requesting new reports). Don’t stick staff in time wasting meetings or with confusion over definitions.

Communication and Engagement
Data governance requires communication and engagement. Leaders and staff need discussions and asking questions of each other for success. When someone gets a data request, they need to ask why. And then translate it into action. When a data quality issue is found, report it immediately. When an issue is received, resolve it quickly. Listen to front-line staff on what can be done to improve data. Don’t forget to communicate the importance of data governance to new employees. Open communication will build trust in data.

Empowerment and Training of Employees
Data governance relies on empowered, knowledgeable people. Institutions must have domain expertise in place who have firsthand understanding of the business at a higher ed institution. Domain expertise is knowledge and insight into a specific area. Domain experts use their insight to see through complexities and to imagine what could be done. Data stewards should have domain expertise. Therefore, the institution needs to emphasize training of its staff and empower staff to make the necessary decisions (not some large data governance committee). Make sure that there is a library of resources available along with the necessary technology resources so employees can get training when they need it.

Change and Action
Data governance is about action. If you (or anyone on staff) see a data quality problem, let the appropriate person know. If a data definition is incomplete, help make it better. If you see that a new report will make decision making easier then submit a data request. The impact of data governance is made by many incrementally small improvements. Therefore, the institution needs to have a culture that change is necessary, and especially that small change is OK. The hardest step in data governance is getting started. Start small, one definition, one data quality issue and one data request at a time.

In conclusion, if your institution has the right culture you will have success in data governance, and it will be beneficial. Everything starts with people. Make sure the staff is trained, has the necessary resources and is empowered. Accept that small change is good. Make sure that you have the right culture in place so that data governance can be a success in helping people and being beneficial for your institution.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the institution in its data governance and data quality initiatives. IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.   Contact Us

(image credit StockSnap_TX6OSDXEC0_FitDGintoCulture_BP #1091)

Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts