We are always thinking of new ways to frame data governance and guidance so that it is better understood. Previously we did a video on how data governance is like student advising. And previously we compared it to a library in one of Aaron’s blog posts, titled "Learning from Libraries". To make data governance less daunting, we came up with the example is to think of data governance like a research library staffed with research librarians. It is a great place to go to find answers, either on your own or with the assistance of a research librarian if needed. In this blog post we have broken down data governance and the research library into four key functions: gathering, curating, researching, and supporting.
First function that research librarians do (and data governance folks) is gathering. You have this library location (or data governance knowledgebase) and you need to gather information (content) for it. For a library, this includes newspapers, books, magazines, videos, reference materials or other kinds of documents. It is important to get all this information into one place, out from all the various silos. This gathering work from the standpoint of the librarian, does not require a lot of effort. Data governance and guidance involves the gathering of raw information about the data that you have within your organization. You have your different data systems, and the data models that are in them. This information needs to be inventoried and brought into one place. And information about the reports and ETL processes that are used needs to be gathered and brought into the central knowledge base repository. Data governance liberates metadata so that someone does not have to have access different tools to find information.
Second function that research librarians do (and data governance folks) is curating. After you have gathered the raw data, now you must make it usable. From a librarian standpoint you need to categorize it, index it, label it, classify it, and tag it. Curation makes the data more valuable and easier to find. This is the same thing in the world of data governance and guidance. You need to connect the various data systems to their documentation. You need to add security classifications or privacy codes, data access rules, retention guidelines and these types of things. But, also, have definitions in the business glossary. And critical reports and ETL processes need context on them including what is the purpose of this report and what are the definitions being used. Curation is hard but easier if you have gathered correctly. And you need a distributed set of individuals (data stewards and subject matter experts) working on this curation. We hear people who say that they want to start with a business glossary and worry about the technical stuff later. We feel that this is harder, and you are choosing to do the curation without doing the easy part, which is the technical gathering which makes the curating easier.
Third function that research librarians do (and data governance folks) is researching. The research library has gathered information and curated it. The information is ready to be used. Just like a library, people in organizations (corporations, higher education institutions and non-profits) need information about their data. They need a report built and need to know how to request it. Or someone reports a data quality issue which needs to be tracked, researched, and solved with possibly the creation of data quality rules. Think about the way that you interact with the data governance content (business glossary, dictionaries, specifications, reference data, etc.) and make sure that it can be accessed and found. Think about self-service for the data consumers and for those people creating the reports.
Fourth function that research librarians do (and data governance folks) is supporting. The best librarians, work with you to help you find things and answer your questions similar to data stewards for data governance-related activities. In an ideal world, you can go into a research library, and everything is so well curated, that you can find exactly what you need. But that is not often the case. Maybe there is some new content that has not been curated yet. Or maybe you are not sure exactly what you want. Then you will need to interact with the research librarian who can help you by asking questions, pointing you in the right direction, hooking you up with a subject matter expert or getting content from another research library. They provide support when needed. Supporting in data governance is when someone is reporting a data quality issue, wants a report built, not understanding a report, unsure of a business glossary entry or needs a definition. Make sure that quick support is available when necessary for just-in-time data governance.
This is one way we frame data governance, which is gathering information in one place, curating the information so that it can be found and used as well as helping people when they need assistance, just-in-time. Our solution, the Data Cookbook, provides this framework. Hope that this blog post relating data governance and guidance to a research library helps.
IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data stewardship 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.
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