Lets Talk Data Governance Committee

Lets Talk Data Governance Committee

In this blog post we will be discussing data governance or data intelligence committees (or whatever your organization calls it). Sometimes these committees are ineffective. There is nothing wrong with the committee itself. The problem is in how they operate. We will discuss responsibilities, what should they be named, what they should not do and what steps should occur to make it an effective committee. The committee wants to provide the right organizational information to the right users at the right time.


We covered the responsibilities of this committee or committees in another blog post which are:

  1. Setting Roadmap and Priorities
  2. Getting and Maintaining Leadership Buy-in and Commitment (Resources, Tools, Funding)
  3. Determining Data Steward Roles and People in These Roles
  4. Serving as Backup or "Acting" Data Stewards When Needed
  5. Getting Initial Content, Processes, and Examples Created
  6. Training Data Stewards and Other Data Governance Participants
  7. Reviewing Content of New Data Stewards for Feedback
  8. Monitoring Requests and Data Governance Activity
  9. Resolve Collisions and Differing Opinions Between Data Owners
  10. Expanding Scope When Ready
  11. Be the Champion

We have seen many names for these committees such as:

  • Data Governance Committee (DGC)
  • Data Governance Council (DGC)
  • Data Stewardship Council (DSC)
  • Data Stewards Group (DSG)
  • Data Users Team (DUT)
  • Data Management Group (DMG)
  • Data Governance Task Force (DGTF)
  • Data Governance Leadership and Oversight Committee (DGLOC)

For this post we will use the term data governance committee.

The data governance committee should not be used for:

  • Creating the normal data governance content
  • Resolving minor and normal data issues
  • Resolving minor and normal data quality issues
  • Handling minor and normal data requests

Empowered data stewards can do the above without the aid of a committee in most cases unless there is a major collision. We did a blog post on this subject titled “Don’t Use Committees for Data Governance Content”.

Here are some suggested steps for committee formation:

  1. Decide the number of committees and what is the high-level purpose of the committee or these committees. Maybe there is a higher-level committee that handles strategy and providing data governance framework and then a lower-level committee that handles data request and data governance content issues. The number of committees depends on the size of the organization and how far-reaching data governance is at the organization.
  2. Come up with a name for the committee(s) that will be communicated to others and reflects the organization
  3. Determine the initial members of these committee(s) and determine the leader of the committee – get the contact information of the members and make sure everyone on the committee has access to this list. The committee members will change over time as people leave the organization and new departments get on board with data governance. Committee members are usually data stewards, data custodians and leadership individuals involved in data governance. Do not make the committee too large where it is unwieldy. Membership might depend on location depending on the geography of the organization.
  4. Hold meeting and firm up responsibilities (see blog post) and the framework for the committee such as how often to meet, tools used for meeting (virtual or in person), who does committee report to, what is the committee’s budget, who takes notes, where are notes stored, what is simple agenda for the meetings, etc.
  5. Put information about the committee in an accessible place like a web page
  6. Set up data governance roadmap and priorities – what will committee be working on (see this webinar)
  7. Firm up the data steward roles and people in those roles (create a matrix – see this blog post)
  8. Discuss the training of data stewards and other data governance participants
  9. Get initial data governance content, processes and examples created – the committee(s) should not be the normal creator of content but needs to get the ball rolling on content creation. The committee needs to understand the process so others can duplicate. The committee(s) should develop and manage a data request process that includes data sharing among people in the organization and out.
  10. Inform others about the committee, what is the committee’s purpose and how to communicate with the committee
  11. Hold meetings, take notes and try to deliver short term benefits for the organization and handle the normal activities of the group – maintaining buy-in, backup for data stewards, review new data steward content, monitoring data activity, resolving collisions/differing opinions and expanding scope when ready. The committee needs to be the data governance champion for the organization.

The committee(s) needs to lead by example. A data governance committee is not given respect: it earns the respect of the employees at the organization. The best way to earn respect, to earn trust, and to earn the right to lead others is to lead not by word but by example. A committee needs to get stuff done. Showing (not talking) is important. Do not say execution is important. Show execution is important. Give people the freedom to make meaningful decisions, to operate in a way that is most effective for them, and to simply do the right thing, and they will trust you, because the committee trusted them first. The committee should convey the organization’s data culture. The committee(s) needs to take a proactive approach to data governance and data intelligence.

Leadership at the organization needs to determine that data governance is necessary, and that a data governance committee or committees need to be formed. The committee(s) will define principles and recommends how organizational data governance should be structured and operated. This includes conflict resolution and align policy and practice among data stewards. The committee(s) serve as a forum to share and promote consistent and effective administrative data policies and best practices throughout the organization. We hope that this blog post helps you and your organization.  Additional data governance people-related resources (recorded webinars, blog posts, and videos) can be found here.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data intelligence, 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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(image credit StockSnap_Q1OSKR7D42_teamaroundtable_dgcommittee_BP #1257)

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]idatainc.com.

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