Governance, to put it in its simplest terms, is the art of steering societies and organizations. The need for governance exists anytime a group of people comes together to accomplish an end.1 When it comes to the center of excellence (COE), the only thing simple about governance is the imperative that it exists. Without governance, the COE can become aimless and ineffective. With governance, the COE can establish authority, can be positioned to efficiently and effectively carry out its mandate, and can facilitate a collaborative environment. Governance will allow the COE to help the organization reap the benefits from its data assets, minimize total cost of ownership (TCO) of the business intelligence (BI) program and derive business value from the data warehouse. Governance should be set up to:

A cross-functional governance body with executive-level membership is required to create the COE, set and promote its scope, provide funding and resources, and visibly bestow the authority to carry out its responsibilities. The group is typically comprised of executives representing all major business functions, including marketing, sales, service, risk management, finance, strategic operations and planning, HR and IT. The involvement of a COE executive sponsor who is a stakeholder in the outcomes of the BI program is an absolute must. It is imperative that the sponsor understand the drivers and benefits of BI and that he or she has a complete grasp of the effort that will be necessary to implement the program. BI projects delivered by the COE should be tied to organizational strategies, and the executive sponsor should have a deep understanding of these driving strategies and be able to affect the outcome of the strategy-generation process.

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