The Data Architect’s Role in Data Governance

By Julie Smith

Published on May 31, 2023

The state of data governance is evolving as organizations recognize the significance of managing and protecting their data. With stricter regulations and greater demand for data-driven insights, effective data governance frameworks are critical.To run an effective governance program, partnerships or collaborations between business and technical parts of the organization need to be made. This means that specialized roles such as data architects, which focus on modernizing data architecture to help meet business goals, are increasingly important to support data governance.

What is a data architect?

A data architect is responsible for managing an organization’s data architecture, ensuring accuracy, consistency, and security. They collaborate with IT professionals, business stakeholders, and data analysts to design effective data infrastructure aligned with the organization’s goals. Their broad range of responsibilities include:

  • Design and implement data architecture.

  • Maintain data models and documentation.

  • Ensure data security and compliance.

  • Define data requirements and policies.

  • Select and implement data tools and technologies.

  • Provide guidance and support to teams and analysts.

  • Collaborate on data strategy with business and IT leaders.

  • Identify and address data issues.

  • Lead or contribute to data-related projects and initiatives.

  • Stay up to date with emerging trends such as data governance.

How is the data architecture role evolving?

As data governance gains importance, data architects must work with data stewards and owners to establish policies, develop governance frameworks, implement data quality programs, and provide guidance to other data professionals. The role of a data architect is critical in driving business value from data, and as data governance evolves, data architects will continue to specialize and emerge as new classes of architects to meet industry-specific needs.

What role does a data architect have in data governance?

A data architect specializes in designing and implementing data governance frameworks within an organization (people may also think of this role as a “technical data steward” though that term is used infrequently). They are responsible for developing and maintaining the policies, processes, and procedures necessary to ensure that an organization’s data is properly managed, protected and compliant with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Let’s take a closer look at a data architect’s key responsibilities as they relate to data governance.

Key data governance responsibilities of data architects

Key data governance responsibilities of a data architect include:

Designing and implementing data governance strategies and frameworks

Data architects create and implement policies, processes, and procedures that ensure the proper management, protection, and compliance of an organization’s data assets. The role may involve creating a data governance strategy, defining data policies and standards, and establishing data quality and data lineage programs. The aim is to ensure that the data is accurately maintained and secured while complying with the regulatory requirements.

Creating and maintaining data models

In order to understand the structure and relationships of an organization’s data assets, data models play a significant role. It’s the responsibility of data architects to design and maintain these models that precisely represent the organization’s data architecture, including its data sources, data flows, and data dependencies. Doing so ensures that the data is well-managed and structured for easy access and interpretation.

Building and managing data catalogs

data catalog serves as a centralized hub of information about an organization’s data assets. It includes details on these assets’ location, structure, and usage. A data architect is responsible for building and maintaining a data catalog, as well as data products. They curate metadata about assets and develop technical solutions. This demands capturing technical details, business definitions, and usage guidance.Their objective is to ensure the catalog accurate, relevant, and reliable for a range of user types. This, in turn, requires that data be easily accessible and understandable for business users and others.

Establishing and managing data lineage

The process of tracing the origin, transformation, and movement of data through an organization’s systems and processes is known as data lineage. The primary objective is to ensure that the organization’s data is accurate and complete, while also maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements.

Managing metadata

Managing metadata is essential for ensuring the accuracy and completeness of an organization’s data. Data architects are tasked with managing metadata by ensuring that it is current, correct, and appropriately integrated into the organization’s data governance framework. This includes overseeing metadata maintenance and ensuring that metadata consistently aligns with the organization’s policies and standards.

How can data architects support data governance initiatives?

Data architects play a critical role in supporting data governance initiatives in the following ways:

Bridging the gap

Data architects facilitate collaboration between business stakeholders and technical professionals, ensuring that data governance initiatives align with business goals.

Creating a common language

Data architects can help to create a shared vocabulary that lives in an enterprise’s business glossary. This enables all stakeholders to understand and communicate about data assets, including their structure, usage, and governance requirements, ultimately driving the success of business initiatives.

Eliminating silos

Data architects help to break down data silos by designing solutions that integrate sources across the organization, making data available and accessible to all stakeholders.

Establishing common metadata principles

Data architects can establish consistent metadata principles that ensure data is uniformly defined and labeled across the organization, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies.

Creating feedback loops

Data architects can create feedback loops that enable stakeholders to provide input and feedback on data governance initiatives, ensuring that they are effective and responsive to the needs of the organization.

What are the four principles of data governance?

The success of data governance initiatives relies on core principles that guide data management and governance practices. The following are four key principles of data governance:

1. Accountability

Individuals and organizations are responsible for their actions and decisions related to data. It requires clear roles and responsibilities for data management and governance, as well as the implementation of policies and procedures that ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

2. Transparency

Data management and governance should be open and transparent, with stakeholders having access to information about data assets and how they are managed. This requires clear policies and procedures for access, usage, and sharing, as well as the implementation of tools and technologies that enable stakeholders to access and analyze data.

3. Integrity

Data should be accurate, complete, and reliable. This requires the implementation of data quality controls and processes that ensure that data is properly collected, stored, and maintained, as well as the establishment of data standards and metadata that ensure consistency and interoperability.

4. Collaboration

For effective data governance, it’s important to have cooperation and collaboration of stakeholders across the organization. This requires the establishment of cross-functional teams and committees that work together to remove data silos, and develop and implement data governance policies and processes. These effective communication and feedback mechanisms enable stakeholders to provide valuable input and feedback on governance initiatives.

Modernize architecture alongside governance with Alation

Alation is a leading data intelligence platform that helps organizations modernize their data architecture alongside governance. Alation recognizes the critical role of data catalogs in state-of-the-art metadata management, and our platform leverages AI and machine learning to automate metadata management and improve data governance.With Alation, data architects can establish a single source of truth for data assets, ensure data quality and consistency, and improve collaboration and transparency across the organization. Discover how Alation can help your organization modernize its data architecture.

  • What is a data architect?
  • How is the data architecture role evolving?
  • What role does a data architect have in data governance?
  • Key data governance responsibilities of data architects
  • How can data architects support data governance initiatives?
  • What are the four principles of data governance?
  • Modernize architecture alongside governance with Alation
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