Data governance is a hot topic in every industry.

  • How do we get consistent reporting each department trusts?

  • What do each of these values mean to different teams?

  • Are we are looking at the same information?

  • How do we audit our reporting properly? 

As architectures grow over time, with tools and data marts being added, it can feel like your reporting is further from the source you are working to audit. Master Data Management (MDM) tools are a great way to accelerate a Data Governance initiative. But, tools only get you so far. Data Governance is a people process before a technical process.  You will need to get your team structured, your architecture mapped, and budget secured before evaluating tools.

In the past, all data management and reporting fell on IT departments. The values needed are consumed by business. The further the disconnect between the two, usually the further the gap in trust. As Data Governance becomes more of a topic in board rooms, the human disconnects become more apparent.

The first question that needs to be asked if your business is ready for Data Governance is “Do we think about our data process and values as something we throw over the wall to IT?”

If so, is your business ready to change this mindset from the top down? 

IT can change process, database structures, reporting flows and calculations. But they cannot fully understand what the full meaning of the data without definition from the end users or business. Most companies begin to realize they have less definition than they originally thought with multiple end users assuming different meanings of the same value. 

Change in this thought process is hard and beginning to map and evaluate your data is an arduous process. Every business thinks their data is too unique to be mapped or their calculations are done nowhere else. It takes time to describe the data and process to a level of detail that is easy to understand. Just like any business process, no knowledge imperative to business be scaled if it is not defined and transparent.

[CASE STUDY] A Single Version of Truth Database

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It is counterintuitive to work backwards. Governance meetings usually start to thin in attendance as a project continues. Sitting to define data that has been ingested for years feels like it is less important than meetings to push business forward. Project planning on any Data Governance initiative is the most important piece to producing a success.

Some tips below are some ways to keep your initiative moving forward, in step with business to see positive results.  

1. Keep Everyone Accountable

This may feel easier said than done. It is important, as described previously, to get buy in from the top down. RACI charts for each step of the process is one of the most important things to establish first. If everyone knows what they are responsible for early, it helps escalate issues or stalled progress. 

2. Document Everything

Every source, system, data value will need to be documented in current state and future state. This is the most important piece that will fulfill any gaps in trust. All business rules and data dictionaries should live in a shared location that are review with everyone to the end users.

3. Protect Your Hub

Master data should live in a separate ‘hub’ where it can be maintained. The business rules and logic should not live in a data warehouse or transactional database. The master data should be in a place that is fed and feeds downstream applications and warehouses.

4. Assign Responsibility Correctly

SME vs. Data Steward – know the strengths of each resource and communicate the roles appropriately. Data Stewards should be reviewing outliers in the data that are falling outside of the rules established and making educated decisions on how to remediate. SMEs should be creating rules, documenting changes and receiving escalated remediation tickets. These resources should be two different people, but with a close working relationship. One cannot work effectively or happily without the other. RACI charts also help teams visualize who will be making final decisions and who needs to be informed. Starting with assigned responsibilities will help accelerate all decisions moving forward.

5. Engage

Work to keep your team engaged in their roles and reporting out to stakeholders in a way that shows quick wins. Pulling the right team members and stakeholders in at the right times to will help keep everyone excited about the progress and produce a deeper understanding of what it takes to have a successful governance program. Trust us, with an engaged team, Data Governance can be fun!


It sometimes takes a team of people internal and external to push a full governance process. If you want to hear more about Syntelli’s approach and favored tools, reach out! We are happy to help.


Kirsten Pruitt, Customer Success Manager

Kirsten Pruitt, Customer Success Manager

Communication is the key to great delivery. Kirsten joined Syntelli Solutions in 2016 to bring her delivery experience to clients’ projects and enhance our conversations about data. Prior to joining Syntelli, Kirsten spent 4 years as VP of Marketing at Healthcare Education Associates and spent another 4 years managing accounts for an advertising agency. She leverages her previous experience to help our clients in the Healthcare and Manufacturing sectors remain progressive in their thinking about what to do with their data. When Kirsten isn’t delivering awesome projects to our clients, you can find her cheering on our local Carolina Panthers!


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