In the December issue of DM Review, I described the extended Corporate Information Factory (CIFe). The outer band of the CIFe consists of six major sets of activities that must be performed to ensure that the business intelligence (BI) environment operates smoothly, operates cost-effectively and increases in value to the organization as the business learns to leverage and expand its application. These six sets of activities provide the glue for the BI program - governance, infrastructure management, center of excellence, quality management, application management and metadata management.This column begins a series that deals with the six "environment management" functions, governance being the first of these. Governance entails controlling, directing or strongly influencing actions and includes establishing and enforcing related policies. People often think of governance as a constraint. A solid governance structure actually promotes resourceful thinking within an organization. It also provides substantial benefits, the most significant of which are alignment of the BI initiatives with the business priorities, collaboration of business leaders to arrive at the enterprise view and promotion of the BI accomplishments throughout the organization.

Five components of governance are executive oversight and support, program direction, prioritization, total cost of ownership management and service level agreements. I will explore executive oversight and support in this column.

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