After a string of rainy December days in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, the sun finally came out. However, none of the Data Governance Winter 2015 (DGW 2015) attendees rushed outside to enjoy the beach. Rain or shine, conference halls and sessions were buzzing with conversations. As usual at conferences, developing personal connections trumps the weather and war stories were told, questions were asked and business cards exchanged.

Many, like me, were first time attendees. Many were just starting on their organization’s data governance journeys and exploring “what is out there.” However, for everyone I talked to, whether they were in the beginning of a data governance initiative or well into it, the mission of improving data governance was very urgent. One of the most important topics for them was demonstrating to their organizations the progress, status and outcomes of data governance.

A few months ago I talked to Michelle Goetz of Forrester who very clearly outlined different perspectives on data governance that are held by different stakeholders. We have taken Michelle’s insights to heart in implementing dashboards for our TopBraid Reference Data Manager product. Conversations at DGW15 confirmed these insights as well. Stakeholders can be roughly divided into three groups.

Data Governance Stakeholders and Concerns

Data stewards
These stakeholders focus on defining and monitoring governance process, policies and adherence to these. Questions they may need to have answered include:

  • How much of our data assets are under governance?
  • To what extent are we capturing the governance information we need to capture?
  • Are all relevant stakeholders identified for each data asset?
  • Do we know who is using a data asset and how they are using it?
  • How well are we doing on addressing change requests and issues?

Data users
This stakeholder group typically includes owners of applications that need access to information. It may also include business analysts, architects and even the end users of data. They are concerned with questions like:

  • Where can I find the definitive reference data and metadata?
  • How can my application access it?
  • How can I ensure that it is up to date and verify “compliance”?
  • What does this field (aka term, element, concept) actually mean?

Broadly speaking members of this group are business managers. They are looking for a higher-level view. For example, they may or may not want to know how many systems are out of sync with the standard list of product codes. But more importantly, what business impact this may have – does it affect customer service, does it affect the accounting, financial reporting, or other key business areas.

Dashboards for Monitoring Data Governance

With the above stakeholders and their data governance concerns in mind, a key new capability in the 5.1 release of TopBraid Reference Data Manager is configurable dashboards. The dashboards are organized in sections according to different topics of interest:

Completeness and Validity shows charts identifying any issues with incomplete reference data or data that violates specified rules. See an illustration of these charts in the screenshot below.

When an entry in a reference dataset is missing values for a required property, it is considered incomplete. When any entry in a reference dataset violates a data quality constraint, this will be reflected in the validity chart. Each time users run the Constraint Violations report to check on the quality of the governed data asset, results will be reflected in the validity chart, so that the progression over time can be tracked.

Information about Reference Data shows stewardship information that details the completeness of captured information about a reference dataset. The screenshot below shows charts and metrics tracked in this area including completeness of the metadata about the dataset and RACI, external dataset profiling and semantic analysis of the dataset.

Operational Maturity shows information about software systems that use a reference dataset and results of their compliance verification.

This includes metrics on how these systems access the data and perform updates when it changes – indicating whether the process for updating is ad hoc, manual but documented or fully automated. A Compliance Verification chart shows the percentage of systems that are in compliance, out of compliance or not verified. There is also a chart that shows indicates possible business impact by showing the connection of these systems to the business areas they serve.

As each system typically uses more than one governed data asset, clicking on a system provides a picture of its use and compliance across all relevant assets.

Process summarizes information about working copies and tasks. In TopBraid RDM, working copies provide a “sandbox” where changes can be safely made and reviewed before being promoted to the production version of a dataset.

Here, stakeholders can see statistics on outstanding tasks, track changes in progress and assess how they are getting approved or sent for re-work.

Try the Dashboards Today

Although TopBraid 5.1 was not yet released for general availability in December (in fact, we have announced the release today!), the beta version was already available. So we were able to demonstrate it to the DGW2015 attendees and get valuable feedback. Visitors to our booth thought that governance dashboards are a key capability, critical for tracking progress of data governance initiatives and demonstrating their maturity and impact to the business.

The dashboards within TopBraid Reference Data Manager are fully configurable. Additional charts are easily added to show other data governance metrics that an organization may want to track.

We are looking forward to receiving more feedback as TopBraid Reference Data Manager 5.1 rolls out and to continuing to evolve and improve this important capability.