Operational Data Governance Structure

lawrence giordano
2 min readOct 13, 2022

For a data governance program to succeed there is a requirement for an operating structure, where activities take place, how are decisions tracked, approved even challenged.

For the purposes of this short article we wont go into the details of establishing the structure practically, discussion for another thread. The simple theory of the structure and which activities sit within operating levels as an ideal scenario.

Conceptually the operating model can be broken down into 3 layers:

Level 1: Strategic Direction — Top level, Setting the strategic direction on how to maximize the value of data for the organization, including prioritization of data initiative projects where required

Level 2: Strategic Deployment — Middle level, Designing and implementing the data strategy, policies & principles to ensure effective data controls and oversight across the organization

Level 3: Operational Execution — Lowest level, Topic-oriented working groups to operationalize the data strategy, addressing their teams’ needs, coordinate directly with business users and implement approved changes

The data governance groups can then be pinned to each of the operating levels, the below visualization shows a structure based on a global organization, the strategic level playing the role of aligning the regions, however none global organizations still require the strategic level 2 to align domains functionally i.e. a supermarket could structure level 2 as Make, Move, Buy, Sell the structure is flexible to map to your organizations requirement:

The Data Council sits as the strategic level 1 group, I am hoping to cover off the terms of reference for the data council separately so if your interested please look out for that, the role of the council is critical to an effective program, this drives both organizational leadership engagement but also holds the program to account against its deliverables.

The Regional steering groups allow for regional nuances to the raised, i.e. privacy concerns or upcoming legislation within a regional could require a higher focus vs another.

Finally the working groups are the operating beating hearts of the program, where the activity happens in defining standards and artefacts through to the implementation of policies and frameworks.

The approach taken either bottom up or top down in establishing these functional groups depends on the program directive again something to cover separately.

I would love to hear any feedback or enhancements to the operating model above.