Data is the most important asset of any company today. With increasing digitization, many organizations have access to volumes of data that are stored physically or digitally. Unfortunately, most of these data are in a non-standardized format, making their reliability questionable.
If data quality is questionable, it can’t be used for decision-making, as poor data quality can lead to misleading conclusions and bad decisions. Therefore, organizations must ensure that they maintain high-quality data at all times by having good data governance in place.
So, exactly what is data governance? This article will answer this question by giving you an in-depth summary of data governance, its best practices, and its benefits.
Data Governance Defined
Data governance is the process of maintaining data integrity, security, availability, and usability of data within an organization based on a collection of policies, roles, and practices. Data governance ensures that data is trustworthy, secured, consistent, and not misused. It also determines who has access to what data and when they can use it.
It’s not uncommon to see people confuse data governance with master data management (MDM). However, unlike MDM, which is a program of operational processes, data governance creates the policies and regulatory requirements that govern operational processes of individual phases of a master data’s life cycle, from its creation to its access, use, and disposal.
The Data Governance Institute (DGI) defines data governance as a practical and actional framework that helps the data stakeholders of an organization to identify and meet information needs. It goes further to add that a data governance framework is more than data management. It should consist of rules, processes, and procedures to guide data users in their daily work.
Data Governance Best Practices
To have a well-designed data governance program, you’ll need a data governance committee and data steward. The governance team charges itself with creating rules and standards that govern data usage and the enforcement and implementation procedures that the data stewards will enforce.
Admittedly, setting and implementing data governance may seem complicated and challenging. However, by adapting its best practices from the unaware stage to its maturity phase, you can make the process relatively easy and successful. On that note, here are a few best practices that you should apply.
- Focus on organizational values and business outcomes: When implementing data governance, ensure that you focus on your business outcomes instead of the data itself. So, start by focusing on a limited set of data related to clear and measurable goals within the organization.
- Maintain a governance process and collaborative culture: To avoid the IT department and data management team from being viewed as the “data police,” it’s advisable that you define ownership and make your data governance policy business-driven. This means every data owner will be involved, leading to less resistance and more compliance.
- Provide ongoing education to stakeholders: The education of data stakeholders is a necessary component of every data governance initiative. The aim is to familiarize the data analysts and business users with data processes, usage rules, and data privacy mandates.
- Maintain a transparent and trust-based governance framework: Data lineage and curation are critical in any data governance framework. So ensure that your governance framework is trust-based and maintains transparent decision-making that cleaves to a set of ethical principles.
- Keep up with data security and risk management: Ensure that data security and risk management are core components of your data governance model.
Benefits of Data Governance
The reality is, every organization that deals with big data need data governance to manage and control its use actively. The benefits of a good data governance practice are many. Firstly, it leads to greater operational efficiency as data analysis results can be used to optimize business processes. What’s more, it offers better data quality because of fewer errors and less duplication. Additionally, the robust framework of data governance improves regulatory compliance and makes provision for future regulations.
Lastly, data governance provides company executives with a better understanding of business by revealing its blind spots. This means that businesses can make more accurate and confident decisions.