Ep 24: What is a data governance framework?

What is a Data Governance Framework?

In this episode of “Talk Tech with Data Dave” episode, Alexis and Data Dave dive into what data governance frameworks are all about. Dave explains that these frameworks aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal but rather customizable to fit each organization’s needs. They liken it to a playbook approach, blending elements from Six Sigma and business engineering to tackle data governance in a way that makes sense for individual companies. The key takeaway? Starting to shape your own data governance framework starts with understanding your business through its data, setting clear goals, and rallying a team around these objectives. Dave emphasizes the importance of evolving your approach and creating a shared language around data within your organization.

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Published:

May 14, 2024

Duration:

00:16:56

Transcript

Alexis
Hi everyone, welcome to Talk Tech with Data Dave. I’m Alexis, your host of this podcast, and I’m here with my dear friend, Data Dave to talk all things data, all things cloud, all things technology, and all things D3Clarity. Morning, Dave! 

Data Dave
Good morning, Alexis, how are you this morning? 

Alexis
I’m pretty good. I’m pretty good. I’m excited for the topic we have today. Dave I did a little pre-show run through where we talked just a moment about our question, and Dave was like, “This is going to be a good one.” And so I’m really excited. Before we get started though, I want to pitch as I always do, that we are always looking for listener questions. Please e-mail us at talktech@d3clarity.com or submit a question right on the D3Clarity website. We’d love to answer your question in the podcast. So Dave, Are you ready? 

Data Dave 

Absolutely. Go for it, Alexis. 

Alexis
So today our question is: what is a data governance framework? Now, before you answer, I want to give you a little bit of background on this one. We hopped on our Google Analytics page and SEO optimization information, and we found that a lot of people were actually Googling “what is a data governance framework”. And so, we thought it would be awesome to kind of answer that on the podcast for those of you who are out there looking for an answer who would like, kind of D3larity’s perspective. So again, Dave, what is the data governance? 

Data Dave
That really is quite an interesting question, and the reason it’s interesting is cause it’s a fairly abstract answer, because there isn’t really a dated governance framework. In the extent that you might think of a framework as something physical or something significantly tangible, like a software development framework or a, you know, frankly a  scaffolding around a house or around something that you’re building, right? What is a framework? It’s really a supporting infrastructure, if you like to assist in doing whatever you’re trying to do. So there isn’t really a data governance framework any more than there is a specific exercise regime that is governed towards you losing weight or you getting fitter or whatever, it is very subjective and very specific to the company that’s using it. Does that make sense? 

Alexis
So, it’s more of an idea than a standard if you will. 

Data Dave
Yes, there’s not really one standard. There’s not really one-size-fits-all where you go and get a framework that is right for you. A number of organizations have what they would call a data government framework or a standard data governance… what’s the right word… mechanism or approach to building a structure that gets you towards data governance and gives you the mechanisms for adding data governance to your organization.  

In the same way as a software development methodology, having mentioned that one before, or a process reengineering A, a Six Sigma framework, there’s not the rigor around data governance that there is in the likes of Sox Sigma or some of these other structures. But again, everybody puts them in with a slightly different model for themselves.  

Alexis
So it’s really dependent upon what your organization specifically is doing or looking for or trying to do. And they just kind of established something that they call their framework. 

Data Dave
Exactly. And the number of us like, we have, as you know, we have a a framework of kinds within D3Clarity that we talked to our clients about. But it’s really a set of approaches and a set of techniques that we use for establishing oversight in your organization or establishing a priority set or establishing a road map or establishing a technique for how to run data projects and that sort of thing.  

So it’s more of a collection. You know we use the term playbook quite frequently rather than framework because we prefer to look at it as a set of actions and a set of techniques as to how to do a particular thing to produce particular results and a particular outcome.  

So it builds into a framework within an organization. You might have an executive structure where you say we’ve got a technique for doing stakeholder buy in and building business cases, and we’ve got techniques within our data world that works to build that up, and that goes into building that framework within an organization.  

So, the organization we will teach these techniques, we will use these techniques to sort of, “Okay, here’s how to establish executive buy in. Here’s how to establish a business case. Here’s how you analyze a business process to determine the critical data elements that need to be governed. This is how you start to put together a project that leads. This is how you measure the outcome of that project to business requirements.” And together as you work through these and keep an eye on the whole set, you build up towards a framework that works for you, right? And then you’ve got the scaffolding to hang these pieces off of. 

Alexis
We call, kind of, our approach, as you said earlier, a playbook. I mean, we actually have the D3Clarity Data Governance Playbook© which are all the different steps that we suggest people take. We call them plays, right? 

And then that’s what we suggest to you people use as their framework. Do you want to talk a little bit more about like what wht our approach looks like more specifically? 

Data Dave 

So, our approach is based in a pragmatic sort of roll up of Six Sigma, and business, engineering, and data engineering approaches. So, we establish from that a set of plays, if you like, and a set of techniques that give you the common ways of taking down particular roadblocks or impediments to good data governance or good data management.  

I prefer the term data management to data governance, so it’s more around, “How do you change your business to ensure that the data producers are producing the data with an eye to high-quality data and data that is targeted to consumers downstream? How do you increase your data literacy within your organization? What training do you put in place so that your data consumers are using more data and less gut feel or intuition to make decisions to make those decisions clearer and more concise?” 

so there’s a set of things that we normally see, whether it’s educating people on data literacy,. Whether it’s making sure people are paying attention to data, making sure the data quality structures are in place, making sure the owners are in place across the organization. That there is a bringing together of all things data to start to say, “Data is important” and bringing up the view of data. And working that all the way up to “How does data improve my business and how do we build sort of the data governance councils and the people that are approaching and working with data?” But rolling that out across the whole organization into every individual, that is a data provider or a data consumer. With that, you end up with a framework that is built into your culture and into your structure to pay attention and raise the visibility of data. 

Alexis
So I want to flip this question just a touch. I’m assuming that the people out there that are Googling “what is a data governance framework” are kind of looking for steps to take so that they can try to establish their own data governance framework.  

So we’ve attempted to define it in its abstract point, but what would you say are kind of the first steps that someone should take when they’re establishing their own data governance framework? 

Data Dave
That’s a very good question. 

Alexis
Call D3Clarity. That’d be a great first step. 

Data Dave 

It would actually, yes. Call me call us! Yes. 

The approach that we take is one of really looking at the business and looking at the data that defines that business. “How does your data describe your business, and how accurately does your data describe your business?” And then start into that and understand how we can make the business more efficient and where the business is losing sight of itself in the data, so to speak, or the data doesn’t describe the business as well as it should.  

We would normally set what we call the “North Star”. So that becomes the ultimate direction. We believe that we would operate better if our data was in a superior state. If the data was better. And so we established that North Star and then start to drill into, “What are critical data elements? Where is the data literacy? Where is the data causing inefficiencies?” And starting to rise the visibility of that data and do specific projects that say “If the data was better we would behave differently”. And then we follow that through into that management change and that behavioral change to start to say “We’re going to depend upon our data. We’re going to make our data better. We’re going to drive this forward and do particular projects, focus on that. Keeping that eye on that North Star and keeping the company engaged.”  

You’ll hear a lot about data governance, councils and data councils and things like that. That is incredibly important to raise that visibility and give that consistency across the organization, and to help the individuals that are operating in this space feel empowered and enabled to make a change within their organization. So, building a community of people that are all working towards this North Star and working in different projects and then you find that the projects take on a sort of life of their own and a style of their own, and you start to evolve with more of a data framework and an approach that starts to gain speed and gain a sort of head of steam. 

Alexis
So, if they’re not calling D3Clarity, definitely their first step is to look at the data that they do have. And then to figure out where they want to go with it. 

Data Dave
And not just the data. Look at the business as well, and the operations within the business. “How does data affect my business? How does my data describe my business? Can I use my data to measure the way my organization is operating? And then if I change the operation, how would that change the data? If I change the data, how would that change the operation?” Because they are tightly linked. I think we did a conversation the other day about change management and data governance and they are so tightly unwound because of the way the data is evidenced that work has occurred or that action has been taken. 

Alexis
Final thoughts on a data governance framework. Anything specific come to mind, Dave, that we haven’t already talked about today? 

Data Dave
While a framework is a sort of abstract point of view and an abstract thing in this sense, what is a data governance framework? It’s fairly abstract. It is still important to operate with consistency and operate within a method or a methodology to drive consistency across your organization so that people know what to look at. So don’t misunderstand with saying that framework is abstract and specific to an organization, with it not being important. Because it is important to operate in the space with the consistency bringing people together, giving people the same language and the same vernacular in which to discuss data and the same level to raise the visibility of the data.  

So, the framework is important. But don’t get bogged down in the nature of the framework so much as making sure you have one of your own that is evolving and is changing and is allowing you, as an organization, to communicate and to drive forward.  

The framework is there to support you, not the other way around. 

Alexis
Ohh that’s beautiful. 

Data Dave
That’s the point that I would make. It is perfectly okay to establish your own framework. That’s why we’re fairly loose in saying our playbook and our approach is because what we want to see is we want to see the framework evolve within the culture as the organization evolves its own culture. We want to introduce data into your culture. And you operate on the data in the way that your culture wants to operate on it. Rather than a heavy-handed dictation of you will do it this way. Does that make sense? Does that help? 

Alexis
That makes total sense to me, and I love the way you said that the framework is there to support you, not the other way around. Just keeping the importance of it in place, but also remembering that it’s meant to be there to create a plan, not to dictate everything that we’re doing. 

Data Dave
When we engage with an organization, we’ll take them through a set of workshops and a set of discussions on, “What are your definitions of different things? How does your data support this definition? Where is this data that supports this definition?” And we can do it at a number of different areas, a number of different approaches and levels, and just to educate people is again, I’m going to stress again the language and the vernacular starting to introduce the data literacy starting to come into play in the organization that starts to give everybody a common language with how they describe the data and how they describe their business as it pertains to data. I mean things like what is, very simply, what is a customer. 

Alexis
Ohh yes. 

Data Dave
You’ve heard me say that 1000 times, “What is a customer and what is this? And it’s what does it mean to you? To this organization? And do you have a common set of vernacular that you can use so that you know everybody is talking about same thing?” 

Alexis
I love that. 

I want to have a follow up conversation with you, Dave, about data literacy. I went to a webinar a few months back where the person who was presenting was making the argument that the word “data literacy” was actually really hurting everything about data governance. Because the opposite of “data literate” is “data illiterate”. And do we want to be? So I’m going to put that on the back burner for another philosophical conversation later on down the road. I think that ties into this pretty perfectly. 

Data Dave
Yes, absolutely. And don’t get me wrong . When I say “data literacy”, I’m not implying that people are data illiterate. I’m simply saying that being better read or better versed in all things data can’t hurt. The benefits of a classical education -you understand the classics and you understand literature and your conversation becomes richer, not the other way around. 

Alexis
Putting a pin in that right now. We’re having that conversation. It’s already decided.  

If you have a different opinion about a data governance framework or if you want to talk about your data governance framework with us on the podcast, we’d love to have you join us to kind of have that conversation. Then feel free to reach out to us at talktech@d3clarity.com. We’d be super happy to have you on the pod.  

Also, we’re always looking for questions. I said it once, I’ll say it again, please submit your questions to talktech@d3clarity.com or right on the D3Clarity website. We’d love to answer them on the podcast. 

Data Dave
Absolutely. We’d love to answer the questions. The other thing I’d put out there is –  if you have either specific challenge or a success story that you’re particularly proud of, we would be delighted to speak with you about it. And we don’t have to share names or we can protect the innocent, but we would be delighted to either talk about a specific challenge or like I say, if you’ve got a particular success story that you’d love to share, we would be more than happy to discuss it. 

Alexis
We always love good news on the podcast. Well, thank you, everyone so much for joining us today. Dave, thanks for answering my question. I really appreciate it and I hope all of the people who are out there Googling it got a better perspective on a data governance framework today. 

Data Dave
Thank you. 

Alexis
Have a good day!  

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