Studies show that the vast majority of large organizations across industries are embracing the concept of data governance as a mechanism to coordinate how shared data is defined, maintained and leveraged across the organization. Yet when consultants work with clients, we often encounter challenges in aligning a cross-system and cross-functional data governance concept with an existing system ownership model, where clear ownership for everything in a particular system – including the data – is already defined and placed with a businessperson. The problem is that many data elements are used in and synchronized between multiple systems, a fact the system-centric ownership model often fails to address. To solve this dilemma, it’s critical that an alliance is forged between your system ownership organization and your data governance organization, where clear boundaries for decisions and responsibilities are defined.

Consider a company with a strong and mature culture of system ownership anchored in the business, so that each business application (like a customer or supplier relationship management system) is owned by a manager who is responsible for the functionality delivered by that particular application. This concept has been implemented to ensure that all changes to a system are approved by the owner and to establish one person as the final escalation path. The system owners in the business have IT counterparts that own the technical aspects of the various applications.

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