Oct. 7, 2020

New data governance initiative aims to elevate quality, understanding and accessibility of information at the university

A culture of smart data practices — stewarded by subject matter experts — aims to increase trust in the data you use

While the words ‘data governance’ infrequently comes up in casual conversation, we do think about them every time we ask ourselves the questions, “Where do I get the information that I need, and can I trust the data that I receive?” Having access to accurate and reliable information about the University of Calgary is the goal of Institutional Data Governance, a newly launched initiative with the support of the executive leadership team. It is intended to provide planners and decision-makers with confidence that the data they receive is accurate and reliable.

The team behind the Institutional Data Governance initiative has been working hard during this past year to develop a standardized approach to how our data is defined, produced, and used. Leading the initiative is the director of the Office of Institutional Analysis – Adnan Ahmed – who says that we will all play a role in the success of this initiative as it progresses over the next few years.

“Our goal during this next phase will be to shift our thinking about data governance from that of a ‘project’ having a defined start and end date to that of a ‘practice’ – one that anyone producing, managing, reporting on or consuming data can adopt.”

Ahmed established a data governance team and an advisory group who will help to identify best practices that lead to improvements in the quality of our institutional information. With guidance from the Data Governance Advisory Group, which is comprised of data experts and leaders from across the university, the data governance team will be working with business units to establish and mature data governance practices in their areas.

Data stewards (subject matter experts) will be recognized, and supported in their efforts to increase data quality, documentation and accessibility. As well, the initiative will establish a central repository where data users can find what data is available, where it is located, and who to talk to for information.

A team working with Buffy St-Amand – the interim director of international relations – recently produced an annual report that provides early evidence of the success of the data governance initiative. Working with her team’s data stewards, St-Amand and her team have been able to tell a compelling story about their overall international activities.

“We can already see the positive impact that the data governance initiative is having on how we manage and organize information about our international activities,” she says. “Through the Institutional Data Governance initiative, we are becoming even better stewards of our own data and the data we need access to.”

Watch the video below for an introduction to the Institutional Data Governance practice at the University of Calgary.

Want more information about the Institutional Data Governance practice? Interested in how your business unit can engage in data governance? Click on the link to visit the Institutional Data Governance website or contact Jean Gomes, Office of Institutional Analysis, at datagov@ucalgary.ca.


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