Data Quality Director Required (Must Possess Powers of Invincibility)

In this post we look at a growing trend in organisations searching for data quality and data governance leaders who must possess near super-human powers to tackle every conceivable data issue across the organisation.

Are you expecting too much of your data quality leader?

Data Quality Director Required (Must Possess Powers of Invincibility)

For many of our readers I suspect an executive or directorial role in data quality or data governance is on their future career ladder. It is the ultimate career progression after all, the ability to report to the executive board and make a real difference across the organisation.

The reality is that senior roles are still relatively uncommon and as a result some organisations may view those roles as a holding bin in which to stuff a myriad of unrealistic requirements.

Below is an extract of a job description I recently found online which appears to typify this situation. I’ve added comments in bold, why not add your comments in the form at the end of this post?

Data Quality Director – Main Responsibilities

  1. Drive the definition and implementation of data governance initiatives – if you are defining and driving data governance then surely the role is one of data quality/data governance director?
  2. Recommend and implement an approach for collection, storage, protection and delivery of application usage data, ensuring it meets the needs of the organization.– good, clear requirement but will there be a team to support this? No clear mention of this.
  3. Ensure data quality through the strategic management of information throughout the product life cycle.– what does this really mean?
  4. Prepare, disseminate, and monitor a data management plan.– This would seem a good fit for this role.
  5. Ensure adherence to data governance policies and procedures – would a director take on an auditing role? Where is the hand-off to stewards and local “law” enforcers?
  6. Inform business users and executives of data collection and maintenance plans and their progress; ensure all stakeholders understand the impact of any process or content changes.– would you expect the “Director of Corporate Sanitation” to sit with users to discuss their progress on waste collection?
  7. Maintain the quality of product usage information in terms of accuracy, integrity, standardization and completeness, according to corporate standards – Is this really the role of a Director? This would appear a full-time role in its own right.
  8. In conjunction with the Data Warehouse Architect and the BI team, ensure application tracking data file formats and content comply with data warehouse standards and meet business needs for reporting. –Does “checking file formats” really fit a directorial role? Admittedly there is finally some talk of utilising other resources.
  9. Ensure metadata is maintained and is compliant with corporate standards – Should data stewards not be responsible for maintenance and validation of standards, reporting to the director?
  10. Ensure faulty data is brought to the attention of those who will repair it as well as those impacted by its incorrectness. – Low-level data quality analyst/information chain steward role? Do you agree/disagree?
  11. Track data bugs and their fixes; drive timely resolution of data quality issues – Same as 10?
  12. Maintain and publish a data change history, including impact of each change– Same as 10?
  13. Participate in database and data warehouse schema design discussions with the Database Engineering and Business Intelligence teams to ensure a full understanding of the design and agreement it will meet reporting requirements.– Have you ever participated in these? Do you know how long they can drag on for and how detailed this can be? Is this really a directors responsibility?
  14. Understand our businesses and appropriately prioritize data quality activities to best serve business needs.– Yes, good requirement for a director.
  15. Ensure data format consistency across implementations.– No, bad requirement for a director, surely too low-level and vague.
  16. Ensure that data quality is routinely assessed against ongoing business needs. –Where is the hand-off? Surely should read – “Ensure that data quality analysts (or other) are routinely assessing data against business needs and reporting appropriate KPI’s”
  17. Manage data quality investigations and report findings to business and technical stakeholders.– Are they delivering or delegating here? Not clear.

Major Functional Areas:

  1. Data Analysis: Document application usage data inventory and requirements.– Senior Data Analyst role?
  2. Data Planning: In conjunction with the Enterprise Data Architect and the Database and Data Warehouse teams, plan and develop an information architecture to fulfill the application usage data requirements of the organization.– Data Architecture role?
  3. Data Control: Set data standards and procedures to ensure enterprise-wide quality and integration. Monitor and enforce data policies, procedures and standards.– Senior Data Steward role?
  4. Education and Training: Promote the use and appreciation of data standards throughout the company.– Should they really be expected to deliver education and training? Where is the hand-off?

Thoughts from the blogosphere

Long-time industry blogger Vincent McBurney (@vmcburney) recently wrote an interesting article titled “Data Governance is Suicide” which also discusses the issue of organisations expecting too much of their data governance leaders. When we see roles advertised as far-reaching and all-encompassing as the one above, you can certainly see how this situation arises.

Dan Power (@dan_power) responded with an excellent post imploring companies to create a “SWAT” team to help these leaders hit the ground running and deliver with the appropriate resources, see Data Governance: The People Make It Real. Some great tips if you are currently putting a job description together for your data governance leader.

Variety is not always the spice of (corporate) life

The job description above cites 17 areas of responsibility across 4 functional areas and not one mention of the support team that will help this energetic leader complete these tasks. If someone is looking for a job with variety, this could be the one for them. One day they will be checking file formats and tracking data bugs, the next they may find themselves defining corporate data governance initiatives, never a dull moment for sure.

Show commitment in equal measures

If you want a skilled, experienced leader to deliver serious data quality improvement in your organisation you have to equip them with resources that are equally skilled and experienced. They cannot do this alone.

If you want your leader to deliver data governance processes and procedures across the organisation, equip them with a task force to see this through on the ground.

If you want your leader to ensure data quality management is practiced as standard across all information systems, give them a team with the right training and technology to make this a reality.

If you want a leader to quit, disillusioned and demoralised after sailing solo into a political headwind for month after month, please pass the above job description to your HR department and let the search commence.

What are your views? Do we expect too much from data quality and data governance directors or should they be able to deliver on the ground and in the boardroom? Please add your comments below.