In a recent blog data governance is not data management I recounted some interesting insights from a panel I sat on at TSAM 2013 in London. On the same panel there was also some other interesting topics discussed – one that sticks out related to ownership of data and where is should sit in an organization, be that from a management or governance perspective..
Steve Clark had some interesting take away’s, he stressed how it is important to have “different owners for different (data) types” or domains of responsibility. Specifically he referenced the need for IT ownership and involvement of technology teams in taking ownership for the movement and delivery of data from source to consumer, while at the same time requiring ownership from business for the semantics of the data. This ties in well with my own well published views on ownership and stewardship models. In my opinion it is not just about driving ownership to data source. Today in asset management firms I am firmly of the opinion that the ownership and stewardship models need to be multi-tiered. As data passes through the firm from back-, to middle- to front- office, it starts to snowball in terms of added meaning, enrichment, added value and increased importance. Typical operating models I see today have owners and stewards ranging from; IT for data delivery to schedule and agreed formats, to data domain specialists for specific data domains across many products, to product specialists that work across multiple data domains for single products, on to front-office specialists such as portfolio managers, or indeed distribution IT specialists involved in delivering data to market. So in effect ownership and accountability needs to follow the nested layers within the back to front publication cycles that so often permeate asset management firms.
Phil Tattersall had some interesting points too – he stressed the importance of “establishing the concept of data ownership” early, and how important it is in the overall scheme of setting up an effective governance structure. Another interesting anecdote from Phil was “ownership helps shift the attitude towards data management” – this was specifically with reference to getting C-Level engagement. My own view here is that ownership top-down is as important as bottom-up, i.e. you cannot neglect one to the detriment of the other. You cannot gain any traction in driving ownership if you are not working it top-down and gaining C-level buy-in and engagement, at the same time you need to be working the process bottom-up to reach the parts of the organization that are handling and managing data as their one and only focus.
I think it is fair to say all the panellists agreed that getting ownership and accountability is one of the toughest tasks in any program of governance you are trying to gain traction with. The key problem being finding people who WANT to own data. A couple of pointers came up – it is your job to sell the reasons why ownership will help drive the program forward, you need to find those people in your organization that eat, breath and live data and do not fear ownership – but most importantly you need to break down the perceived fears people associate with data ownership!