Non-Invasive Data Governance

Data governance is a hot topic in data management. Companies in every industry are becoming increasingly aware that data assets are critical to remaining competitive, and they know that failing to properly leverage their data can make them fall behind quickly. Many organizations are implementing more structured data governance capabilities, and UDig works with companies in various stages of these efforts.

Since good data governance is the key to unlocking the full potential of data assets, I thought I’d share an insightful book on the topic called Non-Invasive Data Governance™. This book by Robert Seiner is a great resource for anyone seeking to learn more about what data governance is and what it could look like in their organization. Overall, the book provides a logical approach to governance and tangible action items which are presented in a straightforward, approachable writing style.

About the Author

Robert Seiner is well known in the international Data Governance community. He is the President and Principal Consultant of KIK Consulting & Educational Services. He also publishes The Data Administration Newsletter ( which is focused on sharing data management best practices. In all his work, he touts his approach as Non-Invasive Data Governance™, which is all about helping companies mature from informal to formal data governance practices.

Main Takeaways

Here are some of the salient points that stand out to me from Seiner’s book:

  • Data governance, in simple terms, is about formalizing behaviors and holding people accountable. Data governance IS NOT about governing the data; data does exactly what people tell it to do.
  • All companies are already doing some form of data governance, but it’s often done informally. There are already people in the organization creating, storing, transforming and reporting on company data. Formal data governance standards can improve how each of these activities is done.
  • Essentially everyone in an organization is a data steward, and data governance needs to be embedded in everyone’s job. Data governance is not something that can be relegated to IT.
  • When trying to get executive buy-in for a data governance effort, it’s best to translate pain points into tangible business opportunities. What do you wish you could do with the data that is currently infeasible?
  • There is no one-size-fits-all data governance solution. Each company will ultimately need to decide for itself what maturity level (Initial, Repeatable, Defined, Managed, Optimized) is its target state in each of the governance disciplines.
  • A successful data governance program will have a good balance of grassroots “bottom-up” efforts from the front-line employees and a “top-down” effort from executive leadership. Buy-in at all levels of the organization is critical to program success.

Useful Tools Within the Book

As mentioned before, one of the reasons I like this book is the very tangible action items it presents. It contains several tools to help readers get started on their own data governance journey, for example:

  • Data governance maturity model self-assessment – helps you think comprehensively about where your company or department stands with regard to the 8 data governance disciplines (Risk Management, Data Compliance & Regulatory Control, Information Security & Data Classification, Metadata Management, Data Quality Management, Business Intelligence & Data Integration, Master Data Management, Data Governance & Data Stewardship)
  • Data governance pyramid organizational framework – identifies all the key data governance stakeholder types and clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities at each level (Operational, Tactical, Strategic, and Executive layers plus supporting cast)
  • Data governance toolkit – provides simple templates to kickoff documentation efforts that are a helpful start to tackling data governance (Common Data Matrix, Activity Matrix, and Communications Matrix)

Closing Thoughts

As mentioned above, there is no one-size-fits-all data governance solution. UDig can help your organization determine and implement a custom governance solution for your organization that builds off these principles.