Data governance. To many business leaders, the concept is a bit fuzzy. Is data governance the same as data management? What exactly does it entail? And is data governance truly critical or is it just something that’s nice to have? The intricacies of governing data can be complex and confusing. Read on to learn more about data governance, its benefits, the key to building an effective governance strategy, and common challenges companies face.
Just what is data governance?
IBM defines data governance as “the overall management of data availability, relevancy, usability, integrity, and security in an enterprise.” Put another way, data governance is the act of determining what data is important, making sure it’s high quality, keeping it secure, and working to enhance its value. While data management is a practice, data governance is more of a business strategy. And without it, companies diminish the value of their data and undermine their own success. But what does an effective data governance strategy entail?
Tenets of a strong data governance strategy
According to data experts, a strong data governance strategy should address the following:
- Quality. If a company’s data is inconsistent or riddled with errors, it’s essentially useless. A strong data governance strategy will ensure the quality of a company’s data and uphold, or enhance, its value.
- Availability. Similarly, data that is not available to the people or groups who need it may as well not exist. That’s why ensuring data availability should be a key function of any data governance policy.
- Usability. To ensure accessibility, a company must properly structure, document, and label its data. A good data governance strategy will help keep things tidy.
- Integrity. Ensuring that data stays intact as it moves across various users and platforms is also critical and a goal no thorough data governance strategy will neglect.
- Security. Finally, keeping data secure is critical. Few companies, big or small, can successfully weather the impact of lost or compromised data. A strong strategy will ensure data stays secure at all times.
Challenges to data governance
To properly govern their data, companies must have a well-outlined strategy that clearly defines the who, what, where, when and how data is managed. However, doing so is no simple task. Common challenges may include:
- Determining who does what. Figuring out who is responsible for what, and then holding designated people accountable, can be a hassle. However, determining individuals’ governance roles, providing and limiting access to data as needed, and communicating expectations is critical to data governance success.
- Preparing data for analysis. Raw data isn’t pretty. It’s often unstructured, scattered in various databases, and missing important pieces. What’s worse, many companies lack an established collection process. To properly govern data, companies need a standardized process for cleansing and normalizing data.
- Pulling together siloed data. To make the most of their data, companies need to break down silos and enable teams to work together. Unlocking siloed data sets isn’t easy, but no data governance strategy can be complete without accomplishing this task.
Benefits of data governance
To effectively compete in this era of digital disruption, companies must have an effective data governance strategy. It’s not a wish-list item. It’s a must! Companies that govern their data correctly enjoy a wealth of benefits, including:
- Higher-quality data that is more consistent, accurate, complete, and secure
- Information and insight that enables better decision making
- Improved processes and policies that help companies operate more efficiently
- Maximized profits
- Regulatory compliance
- And More
Though creating a strong data governance strategy can seem overwhelming, it’s far from impossible. With proper planning and ownership, organizations can overcome even the biggest data governance challenges. And of course, help is never far. A trusted data governance consulting firm can help with everything from research and strategy to implementation and operation.