Data Governance defined & why it is crucial to the organisation
In this insight we will describe what a governance initiative is, before focusing on the case for Data Governance. We will also discuss why organizations need a Data Governance initiative and what can be expected from it.
Governance: Decide how to decide
All governance programs are sharing the same goals:
- Enable decision making
- Reduce operational friction
- Protect the needs of the stakeholders
- Train management and staff to adapt common approaches
- Build standards and processes
- Reduce the costs and increase the effectiveness
- Ensure transparency
- Creates and Aligns Rules
At first, the Governance program will help in the definition of global rules by coordinating and balancing the need of all the stakeholders. It will define the decision process as well as the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved.
- Enforces Rules and Resolves Conflicts
The Governance program will then make sure that those rules and processes are used and applied correctly by all the stakeholders. If necessary they will be enforced. The Governance Program will also help to prevent or resolve conflicts by providing ongoing services.
- Provide Ongoing Services
Finally the Governance Program must support the stakeholders in the application of the processes and rules and by identifying any new opportunities to create new rules or to align or adapt existing ones.
The case of Data Governance
A DG Program might have a focus on the following areas:
- Policy, Standards, Strategy
The DG Program will contribute to the definition of a data strategy and will ensure that consistent policies and standards are used within the organization. It will steer the creation of new policies and standards and work on the alignment of the existing ones. It will finally monitor that those policies and standards are correctly used with the organization.
- Data Quality
The DG program will set the direction for the Data Quality Program. It will help the organization to define and monitor the quality of its data and help to establish ownership, decision rights and accountabilities to ensure the quality, integrity and usability of the data.
- Privacy, Compliance, Security
Depending on the industry of the organization this area might be more or less critical. In any case the DG Program will help to protect sensitive data and enforce the legal, contractual or architectural compliance requirements. This will help the organization to control and limit the risks on its data.
- Architecture, Integration
In this domain the DG Program will mainly have a support role by bringing cross-functional attention to integration challenges. It will support initiatives like metadata or master data management programs and help in the definition of architectural policies and standards in order to improve systems integration.
- Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
The DG Program will help to enforce rules and standards in the various source-systems of the organization, which will affect the data warehouses and business intelligence data by providing better quality data. It will also help to clarify and promote the value of the data related projects in general.
- Management Alignment
The DG Program will promote and measure the value of any data related projects & initiatives towards management. It will help management to align the different initiatives and monitor for them the data related projects.
Why an organization would need a Data Governance Initiative
Organizations might need a Data Governance Program for several and different reasons. In all the cases, the framework that is set by the DG Program will aim to control and reduce the risks around the data as well as help the organization to use the data to develop new opportunities.
Limit the risks
- Information quality
A Data Governance program, by enforcing data standards and definitions and coordinating the data quality effort, will limit the risks around data quality issues. To have common data definitions in an environment where the data quality is known and under control will limit the risk that wrong decisions are taken based on incorrect data and will improve internal and external communication. For example, on a regular basis organizations –even publically quoted companies- need to republish financial statements due to data quality issues.
- Legal standards
More and more the organizations need to comply with legal standards and regulations. The process to apply them in an organization is not always easy and the consequences of an incomplete or incorrect application might be severe. By defining clear roles and responsibilities but also by positioning it as coordinator of the data related topics, a data governance program will participate to the correct application of those standards within the organization as well as to their control.
- Data loss/thef
When an organization is the victim of a data loss or theft the enquiry following it quite often finds out that this has been possible because of a weak or missing security. In large organizations it is not always easy to make sure that all the people have access to all the information they need and only to those. By helping to define clear data ownership as well as clear security policies and best practices corporate wise, a data governance program will help to limit those risks.
Develop new opportunities
- Business Development/Transformation
An organization where, thanks to a data governance program, data definitions and standards are shared and where roles and responsibilities around the data topics are clearly defined and accepted will be able to be react and to integrate any business transformation or development. To have well defined data management processes will allow the organization to adapt them very efficiently and with limited costs.
In case of the acquisition or the merger of an organization having a mature data governance program will bring value to the company. In case of an acquisition/sell-off, to have a complete and detailed view on data and their content will help the organization to justify its value. As such it can also be seen as an asset for the organization.
In case of a merger, the costs involved will be significantly reduced if a data governance program exists in both companies. It will be easier to identify and address the data, process & information integration related issues and to define and apply the necessary changes in order to integrate the new organization.
- Performance Management/Business Intelligence
Finally, a data governance program will help the development of any Performance Management or Business Intelligence initiatives within the organization. By defining clear ownership of the data and by controlling their quality it will reduce the costs and complexity of their implementation and help them to deliver trusted and accurate data in the desired timeframe to the user community.
The scope of a Data Governance program can be very wide and need to be carefully defined in order to provide the benefits the organization is looking for. It also requires specific expertise in order to implement "data governance” in a successful way and to transform the data existing in the organization into a real asset.