Businesses need more than just data if they are to be successful. They need good data. Information that is accurate, complete and easily accessible.
If you’ve read any of our blogs or white papers before, you probably already know we’re big fans of the mantra that ‘garbage in = garbage out’.
If you’re not focusing on maintaining the initial quality of the data as it’s recorded and ensuring it’s of a high standard, then you can’t expect it to magically meet your organisation’s needs further down the line.
This is why Data Governance is such an important component within the overall data management lifecycle.
In this blog we will explain what data governance is in more detail, the benefits of data governance, and why – in reality – it’s not merely something you can choose to do. It’s something you have to do.
What is Data Governance?
The core aim of data governance is to help you proactively manage your data in a way that allows your organisation to meet its goals, while also allowing you to improve the quality of your data.
To achieve this, you need to define a clear data governance framework that people within your organisation can adhere to, rather than merely letting it float around as some vague, unwritten concept that can never be formally implemented.
You need to have certain things in place if you want your data governance initiative to be successful, including:
- a policy that makes it clear how your organisation is going to control its data
- roles and expectations for those people that are going to be responsible for enacting and maintaining the data governance framework
- specific details about the data management processes themselves
An essential aspect of any effective data governance framework is agreement, co-operation and clear definition.
The way in which information will be managed within your organisation must be agreed upon at the outset, and this will define who can do what with what information, when such actions can or should be carried out, and what methods should be used to perform those actions.
For example, when you look at the way data governance has been defined by a company such as Dataversity – namely as a “collection of practices and processes which help to ensure the formal management of data assets” – arguably the key word there is ‘formal’. Data governance cannot be implemented successfully if it does not have a proper structure.
Admittedly the overall aim of data governance (referred to above) can seem quite vague. To be a little bit more specific about what ‘proactively managing your data‘ means, it includes aspects such as:
- Improving communication externally and internally
- Minimising risks posed by bad-quality data
- Laying out internal rules for data use
- Ensuring that compliance requirements are adhered to
- Improving the quality and value of your organisation’s information, and creating a common terminology to improve understanding across your organisation
What are the benefits of Data Governance?
There are clear benefits that stem from putting a data governance framework in place, as opposed to having nothing whatsoever.
For example, the reason why data governance exists as a concept in the first place is to establish a common understanding of data across your organisation. This includes providing a consistent view of the information, as well as common terminology for it, across the business as a whole.
One of the biggest advantages of implementing data governance practices is to make it possible to easily establish a single version of the truth for vendors or third-parties that are relevant to your organisation.
Once you have both a common understanding in place, along with a ‘single version of the truth’ for each piece of relevant data, naturally it follows that the quality of your data (namely aspects such as the accuracy or consistency of the information) should also improve.
Other benefits of data governance include:
- Making it easier for the business to scale (especially in terms of its IT landscape and systems) thanks to consistent data
- Empowering improved and more informed decision-making thanks to better data
- Allowing your organisation to use the data more effectively (thus making it a more valuable asset automatically). After all, good data = easy integration
Why is Data Governance important?
“By 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.”
This statistic from Gartner is an important one to fully take onboard, because it emphasises the extent to which most organisations are fully understanding the power and value of (good) data.
Accurate, high-quality data allows you to make better business decisions that can be analysed properly and improved upon going forward. However, the key to getting that high-quality data in the first instance is having the structure in place that enables you to onboard, store and communicate the information easily – i.e. a data governance framework.
Given that the majority of organisations are now aware of the ‘critical’ nature of information, you risk being left behind if you’re not putting in place the required structure that will also allow you to harness the power of good data.
One final thought – data governance is all well and good (and crucial!), but do you also have a system in place to focus on master data and how it can be used to empower the rest of your technology landscape?
For more information on data governance, check out our other detailed resources below: