Before Steampunk’s Lauren Maffeo became a service designer, she was a journalist covering the tech sector in London.
Fast forward a few years later, and she’s returned to her writing roots with a book on data governance. Currently available in beta, “Designing Data Governance from the Ground Up” is a guidebook to help companies get started on their data governance journey. The final version is expected to be released in late 2022 or early 2023, and Maffeo is currently soliciting feedback from technologists through mid-November.
“[In emerging tech projects], data is still largely managed in one department, by one team, sometimes one person away from the rest of the organization,” Maffeo told Technical.ly. “So I wrote this book to really be the starting point for folks who want to build a data-driven culture.”
As defined by Maffeo, data governance is the combination of people, processes and tools that help manage big data to everyone’s benefit at a company or organization. She got the idea for her book when she was looking for data governance resources a few years ago. While she found plenty of information on data science and techniques, she discovered a lack of direction for creating a data-driven culture.
For companies looking to get started, Maffeo suggests first writing a mission statement for how companies want to use data.
“That can sound like a philosophical exercise,” Maffeo said. “It can sound obvious because, especially if you’re a senior leader at work, you would presumably know why your business exists and what you’re using data for. But until you can write that in a succinct — one-, maximum two-sentence mission statement — I think a lot of organizations are still not clear on how and why they want to use particular types of data.”
She also stressed the idea of data stewardship, which involves encouraging colleagues across the organization to be experts in the data of their respective domains. This can apply to professionals like data engineers, scientists and architects with that deep data experience. It also includes customer success directors, chief marketing officers, lead product managers and others who lead the business side as they’re often the best people to manage and steward their data.
Maffeo hopes that someone can begin reading the book at the start of a flight to LA and land in New York with a plan on how to start their own employer’s data governance processes. Still, she stressed that her book is only the beginning, as data governance is something that will take time to do well and correctly. In other words, the book might be short, but the process is much longer.
“Data governance is not something you do after the fact, retroactively. It’s not a task that you assign to one person in your organization,” Maffeo said. “It’s a shared way of working across the organization, across both business and technical employees, to make sure that everyone has the same access to your data.”
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