Data Governance Councils: The Web Analytics Governing Body

April 7, 2018 Jason Call

A recent Forrester Report revealed some pretty dire statistics concerning the state of data governance among enterprises. According to their research, 45% of organizations govern data inconsistently across business units (Customer Ecosystems Demand Outcome-Oriented Data Governance, Forrester Research, February 2016).

In the same article they stated, “Data governance programs have a way of starting and then fading away. This creates peaks and valleys in an organization’s ability to engage relevantly with their analytics program.”

New web analytics tools and tag management systems have made it possible for people like Alex in marketing, Jane in customer insights and Joe in sales to all measure user behavior and deploy code. Which is good, but risky.

When anyone and everyone can add or subtract from a web analytics implementation without restraint, the resulting data can be questionable. So in order to maintain flexibility and establish unity within an organization, the business must take control of its data governance. Don’t let lack of data governance destroy your valuable web analytics implementation.

Don’t let lack of #DataGovernance destroy your valuable #WebAnalytics implementation.
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What are data governance councils?

Data governance is usually put into the hands of a data governance council, headed by a data governance leader, manager or officer. They establish business requirements that act as both objectives and standards for deploying code throughout the entire organization.

Without this governance, Joe in sales can deploy his own style of web analytics and destroy the integrity of your implementations.

The data governance leader and his/her council are responsible for assembling and enforcing what is called a solution design reference, or simply a solution design or SDR.

What is a solution design?

A solution design creates a baseline or blueprint for data governance processes, ensuring organizations are maximizing the ROI of their MarTech stack and collecting high-quality data with which to make strategic business decisions.

It outlines the specific user behaviors that an organization hopes to track, as well as identifies where and how each tag should be configured on a website to measure that behavior.

The solution design is a living, breathing document—it should be accessible to all members of the data governance council and should be updated immediately with any changes.

What is the role of the data governance leader?

Assigned direct ownership of data governance and data quality in an organization, a data governance leader should have the correct background and authority to influence organizational practices, including:

  • A strong technical background
  • Familiarity with MarTech solutions
  • Knowledge of different platforms that digital properties are built on
  • Organizational seniority
  • Understanding of the business value of data
  • Thorough data orientation

Industry research indicates that organizations embracing this type of dedicated data leadership excel, and top performing businesses are 64% more likely to appoint a Chief Data Officer (Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers, Forrester Research, April 2015).

How does the data governance council function?

In supporting the data governance leader, a data governance council should be composed of business leaders from all areas of the company who understand their team’s objectives as well as the company’s mission. A data governance council should:

  • Incorporate leaders from Marketing, Sales, IT, Operations, Finance, Human Resources, etc.
  • Meet at least quarterly to review the solution design and other data governance concerns
  • Respond to requests or question from the data governance leader
  • Be a strategic priority to ensure the data is being sufficiently governed and producing accurate, secure and actionable data for the organization

A basic meeting of the data governance council might consist of the following:

  • Review quality assurance notes on the latest implementation
  • Discuss any outstanding actions on your implementation, such as inactive tags
  • Review the business requirements and discuss potential additions
  • Update the solution design to reflect any new adjustments

The Impact

As organizations seek to establish their data governance programs they will ensure that their web analytics implementations are being employed correctly and consistently, and that their data quality is high.

Enforcing data governance makes it possible for all departments to utilize these essential analytical tools, while still maintaining a baseline for accuracy comparison.

Additionally, the better your data is governed, the more accurate that data is which means your data-driven decisions will be more effective in helping to achieve your business objectives.

About the Author

Jason Call

Jason caught the “digital marketing bug” over ten years ago when his music went viral, and he became the first unsigned artist to reach a million downloads on the internet. Since then, he has devoted his career to mastering analytics and providing actionable insights for hundreds of clients, spanning many industries and verticals.

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