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Every data governance program needs a scope document to describe the extent of the program and its major activities

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines scope as “extent of treatment, range of activity or influence, range of operation.”  Once an organization has determined it needs a data governance program and the program’s existence has been established by the charter, it is important that the program’s scope be defined.  To what extent will data governance influence the organization’s activities, and how far will the operation extend into the business processes of the enterprise?  These questions will determine the scope of the data governance program.

Creating a Data Governance Program Scope

There are many different reasons for instituting a data governance program, and each organization will have its own collection of needs to address through the governance of its data.  Some of these purposes could include recognition of the need to create and enforce rules about the organization’s data; a mechanism for developing and maintaining a common vocabulary for the organization (common data definitions, enterprise reference and master data); resolution of issues concerning data and its usage; communication about data’s importance to the organization and its business goals.

Scoping a data governance program could focus on one or more of the following approaches.  Many governance programs will include most of these approaches eventually, but each program will have an initial focus area that addresses the organization’s most pressing data-oriented problem.

  • Data architecture and implementation – for organizations that are embarking on systems re-engineering or ERP implementation or Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – developing enterprise views of data and business processes, identifying master data / reference data for enterprise management, enterprise data architecture standards and enterprise metadata standards
  • Data warehousing and business intelligence – enterprise decision support programs that are designed to incorporate disparate transactional data into analytically oriented structures – again developing enterprise views of analytically important data, developing analysis rules and standards, developing and managing metadata for the data in the warehouse
  • Compliance, data security and information management – enterprise approach for establishing and maintaining rules to adhere to standards imposed by regulation or mandate, developing and enforcing enterprise standards for data security, and addressing challenges and issues in information management for protected data
  • Data quality – for organizations whose data quality is less-than-optimal and for organizations that recognize the need for vigilance in data quality management – developing standards for data quality for key data elements, enforcing standards through business rules and system edits, developing and maintaining appropriate metadata to reinforce data acquisition and delivery at the correct level of quality

Each program will have its own scope, but most programs include the following activities: 

  • Enterprise-wide data naming convention and standards
  • Data management strategic and tactical planning
  • Data attribute/metric management
  • Data lineage identification
  • Data privacy / security, and compliance

To create the scope for the data governance initiative, the data governance council (formed by the charter) should identify the primary reason that data governance is needed at the organization (see list above) and detail the current state of data management, with examples from each stakeholder group.  It is important to interview as many stakeholder groups as possible to reach all affected areas, gaining an understanding of the extent of the problem.

Once this current state has been written, the council should describe any existing or past efforts to address the situation and the results achieved.  The scope document should offer a justification of why this program should be initiated, the expected consequences of implementing this program and any consequences that would result from not implementing a data governance program, and offer an explanation of why this program is unique or special.

Stakeholders can help articulate values, consequences, expectations and challenges for the program’s scope and can help focus the council on the most pressing needs of the organization for data governance and data management.  Having a solid program scope can make it easier to maintain the program’s focus in the face of adversity or challenges from competing programs, and can give justification for needed expenditures.


Every data governance program needs a program scope to identify the parameters, issues, constraints, and direction of the entire program.  Each data governance project needs its own scope that follows from the program scope, but is focused on the project’s requirements and situation.


Dr. David P. Marco, LinkedIn Top BI Voice, IDMMA Data Mgt. Professional of the Year, Fellow IIM, CBIP, CDP

Dr. David P. Marco, PhD, Fellow IIM, CBIP, CDP is best known as the world’s foremost authority on data governance and metadata management, he is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of CDO, data management, data literacy, and advanced analytics. He has earned many industry honors, including Crain’s Chicago Business “Top 40 Under 40”, named by DePaul University as one of their “Top 14 Alumni Under 40”, and he is a Professional Fellow in the Institute of Information Management. In 2022, CDO Magazine named Dr. Marco one of the Top Data Consultants in North America and IDMMA named him their Data Management Professional of the Year. In 2023 he earned LinkedIn’s Top BI Voice. Dr. Marco won the prestigious BIG Innovation award in 2024. David Marco is the author of the widely acclaimed two top-selling books in metadata management history, “Universal Meta Data Models” and “Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository” (available in multiple languages). In addition, he is a co- author of numerous books and published hundreds of articles, some of which are translated into Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, and others. He has taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University.

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