Data governance is your way from data minor leagues to major leagues

Outi Ainasoja Data Consultant, Solita

Published 14 Feb 2022

Reading time 3 min

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this post is to celebrate my love of data governance, and it is also a teaser to a future series of data governance-related blog posts by me and other members of the Solita data governance team.

I will be copying the trend of using sports analogies, but rather than focusing on explaining the basics I want to explain what data governance brings to the game – why data governance is something for organisations to embrace, not to fear.

Data governance can seem scary and be all about oversight and control, but the aim of governance is never to be constricting without a purpose!

Data governance is established for the people and is done by people.

Think about the football players on the field during the game, they should all be aware of the goal, and their individual roles. But can they also pass the ball to each other efficiently? Do they even know why they are playing all the games, and are they running around without a plan?

Data governance as the backroom staff

In football, it is rarely the case that players would run around aimlessly, because the team spends a lot of time not just playing, but training, strategizing, going through tactics, gameplays etc. All that work done outside the actual game is just as important. The team has a manager, a coach, trainers – the backroom staff. The staff and players work together as a team to achieve progress.

In organisations data management should have data governance as their backroom staff to help get their “game” better.

A playbook exists to make sure the players have the guidance needed to perform to their optimal level. In the playbook, there are stated the rules that need to be followed. Some might be the general laws from outside, then there are the game rules and there are detail level rules for the team itself. Players need to learn their playbook and understand it.

The playing field

Before getting to the roles and playbook, think about: Who needs a playbook? Where to start? Did you think “from the area where there are most issues“? Unfortunately, that is the road most are forced to take because the wake-up call to start building governance is when big issues already appear.

Don’t wait for trouble and take the easy road first.

Instead of getting yourself into trouble by choosing the problematic areas, think about a team or function of which you can already say: These are the players on that field. This is the common goal for them. And even better if you know the owner of the team and the captain of the team, since then you already have the people who can already start working on the playbook.

If you are now thinking about the players as the people just in IT and data functions – think again! Data management is done also by people in business processes who handle, modify, add to the data. Once there is running governance in at least part of the organisation, you can take that as an example, and take the lessons learned to start widening the scope to problematic areas.


Organisations are doing data management and perhaps already doing data governance, but how good is their data management depends on their governance.

Data management without governance is like playing in the minors not in the major leagues.

In the next posts on this theme, we will dive into figuring out who is the coach, and other members of the backroom staff, and what are their responsibilities. We will have a closer look at the content of the playbook, and how you can start building a playbook, that is the right fit for your organisation. Let the journey to the major leagues begin!

  1. Business
  2. Data