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So You want to Establish a Data Management Department?

  • By Allie Philpin 
  • Category: Storage 
  • Comments (0) 

By Allie Philpin

Back in January, we reported the rise of the CDO – that’s Chief Data Officer – employed to manage an organisation’s data, analyse it, and report the useful information gathered from that data.  Trouble is, the growth of data channelling its way into organisations has grown considerably more and it’s taking more than one person to meet the challenge of effective data management!  To tackle this new problem,  many organisations are considering establishing data management departments.

Whatever you call your new department – Enterprise Information Management, for example – or the title of the person that leads the department – Chief Data Officer, for example – there are several areas you may need to consider before you let the department loose!

Today, most data management departments are unlikely to report to the IT department, they are much more likely to report to someone at senior management level, such as the Chief Financial Offer, or even the CIO.  Whoever it is likely to be, the reporting structure needs to be agreed and this will also have an impact on the organisation’s structure.  If you’re a small organisation, a centralised data office led by a CDO will be more than adequate; but if you’re a large organisation it is more than possible that a federated approach may be a better way.  For example, the CDO leads a data governance steering committee which itself includes IT resources, operating functions and business processes; it is the steering committee’s role to concentrate on ensuring that data management programs are in alignment with a business’s objectives.

As with most employees, the CDO’s role needs to be defined; a set of functions and responsibilities need to be established, agreed upon and written (allowing for change, of course, which will no doubt occur).  This may include removing some functions from the IT department, or from other departments where managing data has been somewhat fragmented between employees and departments.   Functions may include data analysis and modelling, data security management, data analytics and reporting, data quality, content management, data retention and archiving, data integration, data governance, and more.

So, you’ve established the job role and the reporting structure, but who’s going to be making the decisions and manage the budget?  Without this framework, can a CDO go ahead and build his team or get the tools he needs to do his role?  Not only that, if data security is part of the role, does he have the authority to put in place the necessary data policies, compliance procedures and standards?  These questions and more need to be answered in order for the CDO to present data management as part of the business’s strategic plan.

The final consideration is not really a consideration, it’s a must.  Any CDO needs the support of their CIO and senior management, and vice versa.  Senior management, the CIO, CEO and other managers need to be partners in the data management process.  The success of the data management department could hinge on leadership and open partnership between all levels of employee in order to initiate success.  Lead the way and others will follow… lead by example…

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