Data and Systems Governance Policy


Data and systems governance will promote effective decision making, enable the University to align resources and projects with strategic priorities, and support the involvement of key stakeholders by the effective integration of both information systems and business practices.


Data governance will contribute to strategic and effective decisions regarding WMU's information assets. At WMU, it assumes a philosophy of freedom of access to University data by all members of the community, coupled with the responsibility to adhere to all policies and all legal constraints that govern access and use.


  1. Integrity
  2. Transparency and accessibility
  3. Integration and efficiency
  4. Privacy and security
  5. Accountability and responsibility


  1. Improve the integrity of the data, resulting in greater accuracy, timeliness, and quality of information for decision making.
  2. Train management and staff to adopt common approaches to data related processes.
  3. Promote efficient integration of data systems across the University. Reduce costs and increase effectiveness through coordination of efforts.
  4. Improve the security of data, including confidentiality and protection from loss.
  5. Build standard, repeatable processes. Allow for a process of evaluation that will lead to continuous improvement of data governance and management.
  6. Ensure transparency of processes. Improve the ease of access and ensure that once data are located, users have enough information about the data to interpret them correctly and consistently.
  7. Establish appropriate responsibility for management of University data as an institutional asset.
  8. Reduce operational friction.
  9. Protect the needs of data stakeholders.

Value statements

The value of data as a University asset is diminished by misuse, misinterpretation, alteration, or unnecessary barrier to access. By designing and implementing a data governance program, we can expect to maximize the value of University data in the following ways:

Policy, standards and strategy

  • If we identify and map data that are currently collected, we can expect that we will identify areas for improved integration and access, as well as areas where data gaps may exist. We can also expect to minimize redundancy and thereby associated data costs.
  • If we define our data related business processes and policies, we can expect that we will identify areas for improved efficiency, effectiveness, and accuracy.
  • If we clearly define our data elements and sources, we can expect improved understanding among data consumers and therefore improved data driven decision making.
  • If we identify and engage data stakeholders, we can expect improved cohesion across units and increased stakeholder buy-in regarding data decisions.
  • If we establish rules for data usage and formalize internal checks and balances, we can better ensure data understanding, accuracy, and security.

Data quality

  • If we identify and implement processes to improve data quality, we can expect to increase accuracy and thereby consumer confidence in information and analyses.

Privacy, compliance and security

  • If we analyze our current data security, we can expect that we will identify areas for improvement and be better able to minimize the risk of data breach or regulatory noncompliance and the associated costs.

Architecture and integration

  • If we bring cross-functional attention to integration challenges, we can expect that we will minimize unforeseen consequences of data related system changes and better ensure those systems fulfill the goals for data collection, storage, and access.
  • Data Warehouses and Business Intelligence (BI)
  • If we remove unnecessary barriers to data access, we can expect increased data sharing across units and improved decision making.
  • If we improve information delivery, we will realize more value from our data through a better understanding of our students and their behaviors. In addition, we would expect an increased ability to provide faculty and staff the tools needed to better serve our customers.

Management alignment:

  • If we align our data initiatives, we can expect to develop a better ability to respond to data needs and changes in regulatory requirements.
  • If we monitor and report on data related projects, we can expect increased process alignment and accountability, as well as the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of those projects.


Executive sponsors

Executive sponsors are senior university officials who have planning and policy responsibility and accountability for major administrative data systems (e.g., student, human resources, financial, research, etc.) within their functional areas. By understanding the planning needs of the institution, they are able to anticipate how data will be used to meet institutional needs. Executive sponsors meet as the IT Executive Advisory Board to approve policy and administrative decisions that promote data quality, security, integration, and alignment.

Data stewards

Data stewards are appointed by executive sponsors to implement established data policies and general administrative data security policies for their functional areas. Data stewards are responsible for safeguarding the data from unauthorized access and abuse through established security and authorization procedures and educational programs. They authorize the use of data within their functional areas and monitor this use to verify appropriate data access. They support access by providing appropriate documentation and training to support university data users. Data stewards, having served informally at the institution, will be identified and serve on existing change management committees and the Campus Information Security Committee as appropriate.

Data administrators

Data administrators are university employees who most often report to data stewards and whose duties provide them with an intricate understanding of the data in their areas. They work with the data stewards to establish procedures for the responsible management of data, including data entry, auditing, and reporting. Some data administrators may work in a technology unit outside of the functional unit, but have responsibilities such as security and access as decided by the stewards. Technical data administrators may also be responsible for implementing backup and retention plans or ensuring proper performance of database software and hardware. Data administrators, having served informally at the institution, will be identified and called upon for their subject matter expertise.

Director of Data Management

In an effort to optimize data integration, the director of data management is responsible for facilitating the coordination of data and systems governance. The director coordinates and promotes data policies and procedures in the primary enterprise data systems (e.g., student, human resources, finance, research, etc.) ensuring representation of the interests of data stewards, managers, and key users. This individual is also responsible for promoting a university culture that supports data governance in all areas, including those with critical peripheral databases that exist beyond the primary systems. The director works with the campus community to define a campus-wide structure of data stewardship by making explicit the roles and responsibilities associated with data management and compliance monitoring. The director provides input to the agendas for the IT Executive Advisory Board meetings. The director of data management is appointed by the executive sponsors.