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Data governance and transportation in the US

Gouvernance des données et data stewards

This case study explains why a U.S. transportation company (hereafter referred to as the Organization) decided to implement a data governance program, how it went about it, and what its benefits were.


What prompted the organization to develop data governance?

It was in the process of developing an organization-wide digital strategy that the following issues arose:

  • Hard to find data because it is scattered across multiple applications or silos .
  • Difficulty in accessing data without single sign-on.
  • Lack of data standards. For example, each department used its own geographic system, incompatible with the others.
  • No overview of the Organization’s data, which was therefore not data centric.


To address these issues, the Organization created a program (hereinafter referred to as the Program) to improve data reliability and simplify data sharing to make better policy decisions.

The first stage of the program consisted of assessing the needs of the organization through surveys and interviews with employees. It has established the following necessary work:

  • New data architecture
  • Moving and synchronizing data
  • Agile project management methods
  • Improvement of the speed of the software
  • Consistency and accountability of data owners (data owners)
  • Change management
  • Data Literacy
  • Better reporting and data visualization
  • Organizational Alignment
  • Uniform data security
  • And most importantly, data governance

Organizational framework

The Program has a four-tiered organizational architecture. Level 1 is generalist, while levels 2, 3 and 4 are divided by functional area, although some teams are cross-functional.

Image of a pyramid with four levels going from top to bottom from 1 to 4
1. Program Steering Committee
2. Enterprise data stewards
3. Data stewards
4. Data custodians

Program Steering Committee

The Program Steering Committee provides leadership and oversight of data governance across the organization.

His responsibilities are:

  • Define standard data governance rules and procedures
  • Enacting data governance
  • Drive change and develop a data culture throughout the organization
  • Prioritize according to business needs
  • Evaluate the progress and effectiveness of data governance
  • Approve and advise the actions of corporate data stewards
  • Encourage business and IT participation

Data stewards

Functionally responsible for their department or business area, the corporate data stewards act as a link between the program’s steering committee and the data stewards.

Their responsibilities are:

  • Lead and guide the data stewards in their actions
  • Ensure compliance with data governance policies
  • Promote data initiatives in their department
  • Align the program with the business managers

Data stewards

They are business experts who focus on specific aspects of their field. In particular, they work on applications and data sets.

Their responsibilities are:

  • Understand the link between the business and the data
  • Participate in the creation of rules, procedures and quality criteria
  • Promote the importance of data quality
  • Collaborate with IT on technical requirements and needs

Data custodians

They are the technical experts of each department, preferably with knowledge of the business. They are responsible for supporting and enforcing data governance as close to the data source or application as possible.

Their responsibilities are:

  • Respond to data stewards’ requests for information
  • Report problems that impact data quality
  • Maintain data quality
  • Collaborate with IT in the maintenance and evolution of systems

Program milestones

MARCH 2015Start of the program
SPRING 2015Audit phase, survey and employee interviews
SUMMER / FALL 2015Development of the data governance structure
FALL / WINTER 2015Determination of tool requirements after analysis of survey and interview results
SPRING / SUMMER 2016End of discussions with some 40 solution providers
SUMMER 2016Estimating application inventory and reports
SUMMER / FALL 2016Creation of charters to define the way forward and responsibilities
FALL 2016Town hall meetings to share knowledge and train stakeholders on metadata concepts
FALL 2016Final evaluation of three prospective solution providers
SPRING 2017Choice of BI platform and SAS data warehouse
SUMMER / FALL 2017First SAS project, under data governance, with the Security Department
FALL / WINTER 2017Start of training and knowledge sharing sessions on good data governance practices
2018 – 2021Monitoring, expansion and maintenance of the data governance program

Benefits of the Program

The program provided the organization with a new way to organize its information and participants learned more about the value of data. They understand that data is a valuable asset and can be used to make much better decisions that will benefit the organization in the long run.