What is Data Governance?

Data governance is the practice and concept of managing data throughout its lifecycle. This includes gathering, understanding, protecting, and leveraging your data. Data governance consists of the process of effective management of data using a comprehensive business strategy that defines how all the data your organization deals with is captured, protected, and efficiently utilized.

How to implement Data Governance

Data governance can’t exist without executive support. If a company’s top executives are in favor of data governance and commit to its long-term success, most other stakeholders will follow along. However, data governance doesn't always have to start with a data council. It most often begins with a single data analyst or engineer documenting various roles and permissions with a database or warehouse. On the other side of the spectrum, which most data organizations should aim for as they scale, data councils are created, ensuring that stakeholders within the business align on the management of data. These data councils should form with clear objectives in mind, including:

  • Data classification and mapping. This is the process in which what data is collected, how it's stored, and how it's organized is discussed and aligned on.
  • Data cataloging. Implementing a knowledge base with annotations on what the data is and how it should be used results in consistent knowledge of the data across an organization.
  • Compliance systems. These are the systems and processes in place that govern sharing the data governance principles, ensuring that people in the organization understand it, and the regular maintenance of this knowledge (i.e. regular training programs, data security software).

Why is Data Governance Important?

In a data council, senior leaders across the organization gather to assess and prioritize the most critical KPIs that impact organizational goals. People objectively interrogate core assumptions about the company and assess the efficacy of key initiatives. This puts Data Governance as the decider of the “north star” for organizations.

Data governance goals are:

  1. Achieve better results
  2. Align on strategy
  3. Encourage data collaboration

And, if your initiative is successful, your company's culture will become “data-driven,” as folks across the enterprise look to the Data Council for insights into team performance and transparency into decision-making.

Data governance is one of the most desirable activities that organizations undertake to make use of data in a responsible manner. Data governance includes all the practices that help you identify, manage and control different types of data. It's not something complicated, but an efficient way to use data to benefit your business needs.

What is data stewardship?

Data Stewardship is an important step towards the development of a comprehensive Data Governance strategy. Without some form of Data Stewardship, data will eventually become fragmented, inaccurate and not fit for its intended use. The importance of establishing and maintaining a Data Steward requires a formal approach backed by appropriate internal governance, which involves planning and procedures to ensure that data does not experience unnecessary risks within your business.

Different roles in Data Governance

Data stewards come in all shapes and sizes- they can be the lone data analyst at a 10 person company, or a C-suite role within a large corporation. Regardless, data governance requires the coordination between multiple parties, and some of the most common roles that are integral to data governance include:

  • Chief Data Officer (CDO)
  • Data Governance Manager
  • Data Governance Committee
  • Data analysts/data quality analysts