How to build your Data Governance Roadmap

Getting started

Most law firms already have the people, processes, skills, and knowledge to implement data governance. Unfortunately, you can often find these things in pieces across different business services or operational teams, which doesn’t make it easy to build your data governance roadmap.

It can be challenging to know where to start, so here are the three areas a firm needs their data governance champion and data governance lead to complete for a simple law firm data governance roadmap to be in place.

Build your data governance roadmap

Your law firm wants to start ‘doing data governance’ and creating the next step has landed on your desk. So now what? You might be the person writing the business case for data governance, or you might be the person who’s directly responsible for building the data governance roadmap.

Either way, Iron Carrot’s 50 data governance questions will help you think about data governance to get you started. We’ve grouped related questions into five areas to help you focus on one topic at a time.

Download our guide to “Getting Data Governance Started with 50 Data Questions.”

Get buy-in and support

Data governance is primarily about changing people’s data behaviours. It is vital to find, engage, and enthuse your key data stakeholders from the beginning of your data governance journey.

Identify data governance sponsor or champion

A data governance sponsor or champion plays a critical role in the success of your firm’s data governance adoption and engagement with the process to build your Data Governance Roadmap.

The sponsor is usually the most senior person who started the data governance ball rolling. They may have been responsible for the business case that led to creating a data governance roadmap, or you might need to find a champion to support the firm’s adoption of data governance.

This person needs to be in a credible position to fulfil the role of data governance sponsor, with enough gravitas to influence the most senior stakeholders.

The sponsor (or champion) is expected to provide:

1. Active and visible sponsorship

They ensure that the data governance goals align with the firm’s strategy and overcome resistance by gathering support from other senior stakeholders. They provide direction throughout the creation and execution of the roadmap by supporting the data governance lead and championing changes across the firm.

2. Direct communication

Sponsors are also tasked with directly articulating the priority of the data governance roadmap (and required changes within it) to everyone impacted by it. People affected by a change often want to fully understand the rationale for the changes by hearing from the firm’s leaders.

3. Coalition building

As the senior stakeholder, the sponsor is also responsible for motivating the firm’s leadership to advocate for data governance and legitimise it. Since data governance crosses organisational boundaries, it is essential to understand and support this across the firm.

Find a data governance lead

Data is neither owned by a single function nor by an individual system owner but is an asset that the firm holds. But to govern and manage data appropriately, the firm needs to identify and assign specific roles and responsibilities.

A data governance lead is one of those roles. Like other roles within a data governance framework, the specific job title isn’t standard but will align with your firm’s similar positions. You could label it as “Data Governance Lead” or “Data Governance Manager”.

What does a DG Lead do?

The key is to remember that they provide the oversight and support for data governance to ensure awareness and participation across the firm. They also drive decisions on data standards, definitions, and best practices. They do this by becoming the driving force of data governance and coordinating the Data Governance Centre of Excellence.

Look for someone that has a passion for data and excellent communication skills. They will be responsible for guiding, coaching, and supporting other stakeholders. The person you choose needs to be a credible public speaker, display empathy, and produce great written materials.

Where can I find them?

This means that you could find your data governance lead anywhere in the firm. The first task you will ask this person to build your Data Governance Roadmap. People can learn project management, business analysis, or lineage mapping skills. It’s harder to teach enthusiasm for helping the firm to have good quality data.

Build a comms/engagement plan

Great communication plans take stakeholder engagement from reactive to proactive. They should include how the data governance lead interacts with stakeholders to keep them up-to-date and how you will consist of the stakeholders in activities to create your data governance roadmap.

A plan is a tool that provides a way to structure communication and engagement planning to:

  • Generate interest, enthusiasm and support for data governance and roadmap creation work at the outset.
  • Keep stakeholders informed and sustain interest in creating a data governance roadmap.
  • Inform stakeholders about the outcomes of the roadmap activities that they are not involved in.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Generate interest in spreading data governance activities to more teams.

Don’t forget to include communications by the project sponsor and make sure that every contact explains the ‘what’s in it for me?’ to its target audience.

Capture outputs from conversations

Every conversation will give you something interesting to feed into your workstreams when you create a data governance roadmap. Keep notes or recordings of every workshop and from every 1-1 talk.

You can keep stakeholders engaged by sharing these outputs as the inputs (redacted or synthesised if needed) with the next appropriate workshop or working group. Try to focus conversations and the points you take from them on data governance’s current and future states.

If you have designed or agreed to specific formats for workshop inputs, remember to transcribe materials into the correct documentation and circulate them to the people whose feedback you captured, so there are no surprises.

You might also want to include the expected workshop inputs and outputs or specific engagements in your plan.

Understand your current and future states

The combination of creating your Vision, Goals, and Gap Analysis documents helps you set out where you are and where you want to be as well as how this will support your firm’s strategic goals.

Articulate where you want to be (future state)

Data Governance initiatives aren’t mushrooms – they don’t just appear. A list of drivers in the business case will kick all of this off. Work with your most senior stakeholders to figure out a simple statement that explains what you hope data governance can do for your firm.

Involve all stakeholders in workshops and other activities to identify the tangible, prioritised goals which the firm must achieve to realise that vision. It can help group these goals under themes that match your firm’s strategy.

Figure out where you are (current state)

If you want to properly exploit data as an asset, you’ll need to create and maintain some key documents. These documents are the foundations of data governance activities and data usage. The documents are interrelated such that when used in combination, you can achieve additional benefits.

Business GlossaryA list of business terms and their approved definitions
Data Asset RegisterA list of data assets in the systems and applications used for processing and storing data across the firm
Role Focused Data TrainingA firmwide training and support program reinforces and supports data responsibilities by role (e.g. owner, inputter, user,  etc.)
Data Roles and ResponsibilitiesClear accountabilities and responsibilities and standardised data roles
Data Policies RegisterA central place where people and systems can find and access the policies which apply to the firm’s data
Data DictionaryA list to help manage all firm data systems by setting out the definition and description of data sets (tables) and their fields (columns)
Procedures and Best PracticesProcedures are step by step descriptions of how to do tasks. Best Practices are guidelines for the best efforts to take, which may be adopted and adapted by different teams in the most appropriate way for them.
Data Issues LogA list of pain points or issues. The list helps manage prioritisation, assigning owners, and ensuring solutions get implemented.

Create a simple plan of action

Build a data governance roadmap

The data governance roadmap is a set of steps to help you achieve your objectives, with documented accountabilities and responsibilities. Above all, this process combines the inputs from all the other activities with your people’s knowledge about how your firm works to create a roadmap to adopt data governance.


By understanding the current and future states, your stakeholders can create a list of actions to bridge the gap between where you are now and achieving the vision. This is the list of SMART objectives that your stakeholders input and buy into delivering. This should include the creation or updating of documentation and resolving priority issues.


The data governance lead can organise these tasks into a timetable that best fits the vision and goals. Remember that data governance is a marathon, not a sprint. It would be best if you were planning in years, not weeks.

Setting up the framework

You shouldn’t forget to factor tasks that get your data governance framework up and running, including appointing people to roles, training, meetings, etc., into your plan when building your data governance roadmap. Time to attend meetings or training is a resource commitment – meaning it takes away from time to do other data governance activities (and people’s day jobs).

Getting agreement and support

You can now socialise the Framework and Roadmap for comment as widely as you like. It would help if you remembered that the more people you want to consult, the longer it will take to finalise. Everyone who has participated in a workshop or contributed to any of the activities should be allowed to give feedback.

Summing up and next steps

Once you have a sponsor and data governance lead in place, you can work with stakeholders to set out the firm’s vision and goals for data governance. Use this to perform a gap analysis to get a list of tasks to take you from your current state to your vision.

Include these actions with your framework implementation tasks in a timetable to create a data governance roadmap.

Next Steps

Read how we helped a large international law firm create a Data Governance Roadmap in this Roadmap Case Study.

For a confidential discussion about your goals and how we could potentially work together