Data governance calls for sponsorship, execution and a roadmap to define the process and the work to be done along the way. Somewhere between the latter two is where Mike Jennings fits in at sundry and pharmacy retailer Walgreens.

Walgreens defined data governance for the people, process and technology in a three tier structure, Jennings says. "It is an executive committee for strategy and direction; a mid-level data governance committee which does the bulk of the work and data domains focusing on the operational issues around different data types.”

That is a familiar governance structure, but at Walgreens, tireless business involvement where Jennings applies his own style of infectious engagement. “We don’t mess with legacy systems for new requirements but every Tier 1 and Tier 2 project that’s in the ideation or definition phase has to have enterprise architecture and data governance baked in to move forward.”

At the mid-level of governance, Walgreens leverages advisors from IT security, legal, compliance and risk management to add expertise. “I am not a lawyer,” Jennings says. “Those folks provide help with individual requests that come up and help fashion decisions and standards.”

Jennings’ team isn’t out to govern everything in the enterprise, and lesser projects tied to lesser dollars can move forward without governance. “Trying to address everything is a trap. A typical enterprise has about 50,000 elements, not all of which are business critical or the business cares about. Find the elements business needs to care about, and that’s where governance needs to be.”

Quotable: “Even though the data governance office sits in IT, we have a lot of emphasis on business side ties. Most of our stewards, enterprise, executive and data domain  sit on the business side with some IT involvement and of course, we are bringing business and IT subject matter experts into the conversation where we need to.”

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