The formation of a data council will usually be followed by the appointment of various ‘data stewards’, who act as an emissaries between the council, IT department and employees to ensure that governance policies are being correctly implemented and adhered to.
“Data stewards should be people from within the company that really understand the people in the various departments and that can therefore act as oil to try and smooth the whole thing,” explains DQM Group’s Gregory.
But the council also needs a leader. This role requires an individual who can guide policy-making and dispute resolution and can communicate the importance of data issues to both employees and, perhaps more importantly, board-level executives. “Their first concern is to make data a priority for the board right at the top of the company,” says Gregory.
If data governance is driven from above, there is less chance of it being dismissed as solely an IT concern, argues Gartner’s Lapkin. “If the sense of urgency is only coming from the backroom IT guys, who can only talk about [the problem] in terms of data quality and best practice, then it’s not compelling,” she warns.
Gregory says that the position of council leader should therefore be occupied by someone from outside the IT department. “It needs to be someone who is very commercially minded, so it could be a marketing or sales director.”
Bloor’s Howard agrees, although he believes that the council leader must have a degree of technical knowledge. This is perhaps why many organisations have struggled to find ideal candidates to fill this role, he says. “It requires a broad range of skill sets and those people are not necessarily easy to find for the right sort of price.”