Make Data Governance as Self-service as Possible

Make Data Governance as Self-service as Possible

StockSnap_HQLFQ0FSK0-seflserviceDG_mansmiling_BpYour data governance activities should be as self-service as possible, just like self-service analytics and self-service IT support. Users at an organization should be able to get a great deal of the data governance information they need (business glossary, definitions, specifications, etc.), when they need it, without the intervention of IT staff or technical folks. In this blog post we will cover self-service benefits, the need for a data governance data request process and knowledgebase, and importance for self-service analytics and reporting as well as some final thoughts regarding self-service data governance.

The reasons for self-service data governance are many including:
  •  Those in your organization want it, expect it, and demand it. Staff want as much control as possible.
  • Empower your staff to find answers to their issues quicker than going to IT or others, which is desired by all. Allow users to conduct their daily work without relying on IT or technical staff.
  • Save time by not having repetitive requests needed to be handled and people get answers to their questions quicker with the availability of good content (less time for IT folks).
  • Saving staff time thus saves the organization money.
  • Support and information is available 7x24 and not only when staff is available.

A part of data governance is having a data request process which facilitates self-service as the request can be submitted at any time. You first want to avoid the data request all together as if you have data deliverables available in a self-service knowledgebase folks can find the answers without making the data request. And by finding the necessary information to build their ad-hoc reports without the assistance of technical staff. If they can not find what they need in self-service let them ask for help first. And if they still can not find what they need via self-service or via asking then a request via the data request process is necessary.

Self-service of any kind needs accessible information in a knowledgebase that people know how to access and use. Knowledge should be captured, organized, and shared so that the knowledge can be used. A knowledgebase allows for knowledge sharing. A data governance unified knowledgebase is necessary for successful data governance and analytics initiatives.

In the data governance knowledgebase you want to have open discovery by consumers and creators of the following:

  • Data Deliverables Catalog – This catalog includes information regarding existing reports and data extracts. Self-service access to this information could eliminate confusion regarding these reports or even the need for new reports or extracts. Having this information accessible will allow folks to know how data is collected and calculated (data lineage) and what each piece of data represents.
  • Data Definitions – These definitions include business glossary entries and technical guidance (technical data models). Self-service access to this information could eliminate confusion regarding reports thus saving time and improving decision making.
  • Data System Inventory - All data systems at the organization (click here for additional data system inventory resources) should be documented which includes how to access the data, ability to see the data models and access to documents related to that data system. Self-service access to this information provides users better understanding of the data systems and the data in them.
  • Process Documentation – It is important document the processes that users might require for data governance such as new report requests and reporting data quality issues. Users with self-service access to these policies will save time and be less frustrated.
  • Policy Documentation – Policies need to be clearly and effectively communicated to all employees. If staff are not aware of the organization’s policies, then they cannot be expected to effectively enact them. Having these policies in an easily accessible data governance knowledgebase will benefit the organization.
  • Training Materials – Make sure that any data governance training materials is available such as how to use certain tools and benefits of data governance.
  • Data Steward Information - Make sure that you document your “first step” process which is who contact when you have a question or request. Usually this is a data steward that is responsible for a specific functional area or specific data request type. Data stewardship (click here for additional resources on data stewardship) is a key component of data governance and knowing who to contact (and how) will save time and frustration.
  • Templates – The availability of data request templates eliminates the need to ask questions of IT staff on required information and saves time for the developer. All data requests are stored in the knowledgebase so that they can be viewed later (or even cloned to save time on future requests).

In a self-service situation, it becomes more important that the information (knowledgebase) available to the organization’s user is top quality, up to date and in a format that they can rely on and understand. Also make sure that new employees are aware of the data governance knowledgebase.

Data governance is a must for self-service analytics and reporting. With easier to use tools, non-technical folks can create their own reports and dashboards. But they need trust in their data and a better understanding of the data for the reports and dashboards to be effective. Thus, with self-service reporting you also need self-service data governance. And this data governance must be located within the analytics and reporting solution such as calling up the definition of a field used. Make data governance as easy as possible (do not make them log into another system when they should be able to access what they need from the report that they are looking at). Click here for additional resources on analytics and reporting.

Finally, some additional thoughts regarding self-service data governance:
  1. One warning is to keep the data governance content that is used as up to date as possible and individuals must keep on top of it. The knowledgebase should not be static.
  2. Data is constantly changing as your organization changes. Thus, data governance efforts must be flexible and ongoing. Plan for change and change the self-service offering as the organization changes. Listen to what the users want.
  3. The data governance knowledgebase can start simple and grow (and improve) over time (with each request). Start with one data steward or one business area for your knowledgebase and then expand to others. We love this quote by Russ Griffith, “I’ll take continuous improvement over postponed perfection every day”.
  4. Tailor the self-service to the different users (technical vs. functional) as one size does not fit all. Self-service data governance should eliminate data silos or shadow IT as people should get the information they need (from one central enterprise-wide knowledgebase) without the need of IT or technical staff.
  5.  Make your organization’s data (and the data about your data or metadata) as open and accessible as possible while also respecting security and privacy concerns. Enhance awareness in your organization of what data is available and how to access.

We hope that this blog post stresses the importance for having self-service data governance. Empower your staff to have the data governance information they need, whenever they need it.

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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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]

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