Data Governance Committee 101: When Do You Need One?
Share this article
A data governance committee is also known as a data governance council or data steering committee. It is a group of individuals within an organization who are responsible for overseeing and guiding the data governance strategy and policy.
This group is typically cross-functional, meaning it comprises members from different departments within the organization, such as IT, legal, operations, and business units.
Modern data problems require modern solutions - Try Atlan, the data catalog of choice for forward-looking data teams! 👉 Book your demo today
In this article, we will explore:
- What are the roles and responsibilities of a data governance committee?
- How should you structure a data governance committee to optimally use it?
- Steps to creating a data governance committee
- When to form a data governance committee?
Ready? Let’s go!
Table of contents
- Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a data governance committee
- What is the goal of a data governance committee?
- What is the structure of a data governance committee and who are its members?
- How do you create a data governance committee??
- When should you form a data governance committee?
- Uncovering a data governance committee charter along with an example
- Where to learn more about forming a data governance committee?
- Bringing it all together
- Related reads
Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a data governance committee
First up, we will understand the roles and responsibilities of a data governance committee, which are:
- Establishing and enforcing policies
- Strategic planning
- Risk management
- Communication and advocacy
- Oversight of data roles and responsibilities
- Review and improvement
Let us look into each of their roles in brief:
1. Establishing and enforcing policies
The committee is responsible for creating and implementing the organization’s data governance policies. This includes defining standards for data quality, classification, security, and usage, and ensuring that these standards are met across the organization.
2. Strategic planning
The committee plays a vital role in aligning the data governance strategy with the organization’s overall business objectives. This may involve developing a roadmap for data governance initiatives, prioritizing data-related projects, and defining key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.
The committee serves as the main decision-making body for data governance issues. This includes resolving disputes over data ownership, addressing data quality issues, and making decisions on data-related investments and initiatives.
4. Risk management
The committee is responsible for identifying and mitigating data-related risks. This includes ensuring compliance with data protection laws and regulations and managing data security risks. Besides, they also look into potential threats to data quality or integrity.
5. Communication and advocacy
The committee plays a crucial role in promoting data governance across the organization. This includes communicating the importance of data governance to all staff, advocating for data governance initiatives, and fostering a data-driven culture within the organization.
6. Oversight of data roles and responsibilities
The committee oversees the roles and responsibilities related to data governance, such as data stewards and data owners. They ensure that these roles are clearly defined and that individuals in these roles are performing their duties effectively.
7. Review and improvement
The committee should periodically review the data governance program to assess its effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary changes to the data governance policies and procedures.
In terms of composition, the data governance committee should ideally include senior leaders from different business units to ensure all-around participation. This may include representatives from IT, legal, compliance, operations, and various business units.
Having said that, the exact composition of the committee will depend on your organization’s size, structure, and data governance needs.
What is the goal of a data governance committee?
The goal of a data governance committee is multifaceted, focusing primarily on creating and maintaining a robust data governance framework to ensure the organization’s data is accurate, available, and secure. The following are key goals of a data governance committee:
- Develop and uphold policies
- Strategic alignment
- Data quality assurance
- Risk management
- Monitoring and enforcement
Let’s look at them one by one.
1. Develop and uphold policies
The committee is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining data governance policies and procedures that guide how the organization’s data is handled, used, and shared. This includes creating standards and guidelines that ensure data quality, security, and compliance.
2. Strategic alignment
It ensures that the organization’s data strategy is aligned with its overall business goals and objectives. This involves collaborating with various departments to understand their data needs and ensuring that data governance supports those needs effectively.
3. Data quality assurance
One of the committee’s paramount goals is to maintain high data quality levels. This involves setting quality standards and implementing controls and procedures to meet those standards. High-quality data is crucial for making informed and reliable business decisions.
4. Risk management
Managing and mitigating risks associated with data is another significant goal. This includes overseeing data security to prevent breaches and ensuring compliance with relevant data protection regulations to avoid legal and financial repercussions.
5. Monitoring and enforcement
The committee monitors adherence to data governance policies and procedures and takes corrective action when deviations are identified. This involves conducting regular audits and assessments to ensure continuous improvement in data governance.
By focusing on these goals, a data governance committee aims to ensure that the organization’s data is reliable, secure, and used responsibly and effectively, thus supporting informed decision-making and contributing to the achievement of organizational objectives.
What is the structure of a data governance committee and who are its members?
The structure of a data governance committee is typically composed of senior representatives from various departments or business units within an organization. The idea is to have cross-functional members who can provide diverse perspectives and ensure that all aspects of data governance are effectively addressed. Here is a common structure and the members of a data governance committee:
- Executive sponsor
- Committee chair or co-chairs
- Data governance manager or director
- Data stewards
- Business unit representatives
- IT Representatives
- Legal and compliance representatives
Let us look into each of the above structural aspects in brief:
1. Executive sponsor
This is usually a C-level executive (like the CIO, CDO, or CEO) who has the authority to make strategic decisions and allocate resources. The executive sponsor provides leadership and direction to the committee and helps to align data governance with the organization’s overall business strategy.
2. Committee chair or co-chairs
The chair or co-chairs are responsible for managing the committee’s activities. They set the agenda for meetings, guide discussions, and ensure that decisions are made and actions are taken. The chair or co-chairs are often senior leaders with a deep understanding of data governance.
3. Data governance manager or director
This individual is responsible for the day-to-day management of the data governance program. They work closely with the chair to execute the committee’s decisions and coordinate data governance activities across the organization.
4. Data stewards
Data stewards are individuals who have a deep understanding of the data in their respective domains. They play a key role in implementing data governance policies and standards, managing data quality, and resolving data issues.
5. Business unit representatives
These are leaders from various business units who understand the data needs and challenges of their respective areas. They ensure that the perspectives of their units are represented and help to align data governance with business objectives.
6. IT representatives
IT representatives provide technical expertise and ensure that the data governance program is supported by the necessary technology and infrastructure. They may include roles like the IT director, data architect, or data manager.
7. Legal and compliance representatives
These individuals ensure that data governance policies and practices comply with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. They help the organization to manage data-related risks and maintain data privacy and security.
The exact composition of the committee can vary depending on the organization’s size, structure, and specific data governance needs. The key is to have a diverse group of individuals who can collectively address all aspects of data governance, including strategy, policy, operations, and technology.
How do you create a data governance committee?
Creating a data governance committee requires careful planning and strategic thought. Here’re the steps that provide a general approach to establishing a data governance committee.
- Understand your data governance needs
- Define the scope of data governance
- Create the data governance committee charter
- Identify committee members
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Develop a data governance framework
- Establish meeting protocols
- Communicate and train
- Monitor and adjust
Now, let us look into each of the above steps in brief:
Step 1: Understand your data governance needs
Start by identifying the primary goals of data governance within your organization. This could involve ensuring data quality, compliance with data protection regulations, optimizing data usage, or supporting data-driven decision making.
Step 2: Define the scope of data governance
Defining the scope helps in deciding which data domains, business functions, and systems will come under the purview of the data governance committee.
Step 3: Create the data governance committee charter
The charter should clearly outline the committee’s purpose, responsibilities, membership, meeting procedures, and decision-making processes. The charter is the guiding document for the committee’s operations and activities.
Step 4: Identify committee members
The committee should ideally be composed of senior leaders who can make decisions that will affect the whole organization. This typically includes representatives from various departments like IT, legal, operations, marketing, and more.
Step 5: Define roles and responsibilities
Each committee member should have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities. This may include determining policies, resolving data issues, ensuring compliance, etc.
Step 6: Develop a data governance framework
Develop a framework that includes the principles, policies, procedures, standards, and metrics the committee will use to achieve its goals.
Step 7: Establish meeting protocols
Decide how often the committee will meet, how the agenda will be set, and how decisions will be made.
Step 8: Communicate and train
Once your committee is established, communicate its existence and purpose to the organization. Provide necessary training for all the stakeholders in the organization regarding the importance of data governance and how it impacts their roles.
Step 9: Monitor and adjust
Review the committee’s effectiveness regularly, making adjustments as necessary. This could involve revising the charter, changing membership, or adapting the governance framework.
By following these steps, you can create a data governance committee that is prepared to ensure data is managed effectively and used responsibly throughout your organization.
When should you form a data governance committee?
Forming a data governance committee is a strategic decision that should ideally be made early in the development of an organization’s data strategy. However, the exact timing can depend on several factors such as:
- Data maturity level
- Regulatory compliance
- Business objectives
- Data-related challenges
- Organizational change
Let us look into each of the above factors in brief:
1. Data maturity level
If your organization is just starting to gather and use data, it might be premature to form a data governance committee. However, as your data assets grow and become more complex, a data governance committee will be critical to manage data effectively and ensure its quality, security, and compliance.
2. Regulatory compliance
If your organization is subject to data-related regulations like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, etc., it would be prudent to form a data governance committee as soon as possible to ensure compliance.
3. Business objectives
If your business strategy involves leveraging data for decision-making, predictive analytics, AI, or other data-intensive applications, it’s best to form a data governance committee early on to ensure that your data is reliable, accurate, and usable.
4. Data-related challenges
If your organization is facing challenges related to data quality, data security, data privacy, or data management, it’s a clear sign that you need a data governance committee to address these issues.
5. Organizational change
If your organization is undergoing a major change, such as a merger, acquisition, or digital transformation, it’s a good time to form a data governance committee to manage data-related risks and opportunities.
Regardless of when you form the committee, it’s important to ensure that it has clear objectives, strong leadership, and the necessary resources to be effective. Remember that data governance is not a one-time project but an ongoing program that requires continuous effort and commitment.
Uncovering a data governance committee charter along with an example
Now, let’s understand what is a data governance committee charter.
In essence, a data governance committee charter is a foundational document that outlines the objectives, responsibilities, and operational procedures of a data governance committee. It serves as a roadmap that guides the committee’s functions and operations, ensuring that data-related activities align with the organization’s overall data strategy and objectives.
Data governance committee charters set the stage for how an organization will effectively manage, maintain, and utilize its data. The charter should provide clarity about who is involved, their roles and responsibilities, decision-making procedures, the scope of data governance activities, and the objectives and goals of data governance within the organization.
Example of a data governance committee charter
Here’s an example of what a data governance committee charter could look like:
Title: Data Governance Committee Charter
The purpose of this Data Governance Committee is to guide and oversee the management, use, protection, and generation of data across the organization. The committee ensures that data is handled in a way that aligns with our organizational objectives, regulatory requirements, and best practices.
The Data Governance Committee is responsible for:
- Defining the strategic direction for data governance in the organization
- Establishing and maintaining data policies, standards, and procedures
- Overseeing the implementation of data governance initiatives
- Ensuring compliance with data privacy laws and regulations
- Facilitating resolution of data-related issues and conflicts
The Data Governance Committee will consist of the Chief Data Officer (Chair), representatives from each business unit (Members), and the Head of IT (Advisor).
The Data Governance Committee will meet quarterly or as necessary. The Chair will circulate an agenda at least a week prior to each meeting, and minutes will be distributed following each meeting.
Decisions will be made by consensus whenever possible. When consensus cannot be reached, a majority vote of the members will prevail.
This charter will be reviewed annually by the Data Governance Committee to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the organization and reflect current best practices.
This charter is approved and endorsed by the CEO and the Board of Directors.
The above is a simplified example and the content of your charter should be adapted to fit your specific organization’s needs. Remember, the goal is to provide a clear, concise framework for how your organization approaches data governance.
Where to learn more about forming a data governance committee?
Here are a few books and resources that provide insights into the formation and effective management of data governance committees, along with real-world examples and case studies:
- ”Data Governance: How to Design, Deploy and Sustain an Effective Data Governance Program” by John Ladley
This book offers a comprehensive overview of data governance, including guidance on forming a data governance committee. It includes real-world examples and practical advice.
- ”Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success” by Robert S. Seiner
Seiner’s approach to data governance emphasizes collaboration and business involvement, which is crucial when forming a data governance committee. The book includes practical advice and real-world examples.
- ”Data Stewardship: An Actionable Guide to Effective Data Management and Data Governance” by David Plotkin
This book provides a detailed guide to the role of data stewards, who are often key members of data governance committees. It includes case studies and practical advice.
- ”Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information” by Danette McGilvray
While not focused solely on data governance committees, this book provides a step-by-step approach to data quality, which is a key concern of any data governance committee.
- ”Enterprise Data Governance: Reference and Master Data Management Semantic Modeling” by Pierre Bonnet
This book covers several important topics related to data governance, including the formation and management of data governance committees.
Additionally, there are numerous online resources and forums where professionals share their experiences and insights related to data governance committees. Websites like the Data Governance Institute, TDWI (Transforming Data with Intelligence), and professional networking sites like LinkedIn have groups and discussions dedicated to data governance topics.
Remember, while these resources provide valuable guidance, the most effective data governance committee will be one that is tailored to the unique needs of your organization.
Bringing it all together
Today, organizations face the challenge of effectively managing and governing their data assets. That’s why we need a data governance committee. In this guide, we delved into the key aspects of a data governance committee, its role, composition, and the right time to form one.
By understanding the importance of this committee and its impact on data integrity and decision-making, organizations can use their data assets more constructively and ensure responsible and effective data governance.
If you are evaluating and looking to deploy best-in-class data access governance for your data ecosystem without compromising on data democratization? Do give Atlan a spin.
Data governance committee: Related reads
- What is Data Governance? Its Importance, Principles & How to Get Started?
- Key Objectives of Data Governance: How Should You Think About Them?
- Data Governance Framework — Examples, Templates, Standards, Best Practices & How to Create One?
- Data Governance and Compliance: Act of Checks & Balances
- How to implement data governance? Steps, Prerequisites, Essential Factors & Business Case
- How to Improve Data Governance? Steps, Tips & Template
- 7 Steps to Simplify Data Governance for Your Entire Organization
- Snowflake Data Governance — Features, Frameworks & Best Practices
- Automated Data Governance: How Does It Help You Manage Access, Security & More at Scale?
- Enterprise Data Governance — Basics, Strategy, Key Challenges, Benefits & Best Practices
- Data Governance in Manufacturing: Steps, Challenges, and Practical Examples
- Data Governance in Retail: Best Practices, Challenges, and Viable Solutions
- Data Governance in Insurance: Why is it Important and How it Drives Positive Business Outcomes
Share this article