Introduction to Data Governance

Appurv BhatiaAppurv Bhatia
Written by
Appurv Bhatia
June 30, 2023

What is Data Governance?

Data governance is about ensuring data availability, integrity, privacy, accuracy and security, through the data lifecycle, from collection to disposal. It’s the practice of setting internal policies and standards that apply to how data is collected, processed, retained and disposed of.

It defines who can access data based on roles and responsibility. It also defines the necessary requirements to ensure compliance with applicable laws, industry standards and other relevant regulations. Lastly but definitely not least, data governance ensures consistency of use across the different teams and sectors of your business and compliance.

Data is the new oil and gold

As the world moves towards digital transformation, data is now one of the most treasured resources for any organization. Every function needs data that is up to date and accurate on a real time basis. From Sales and Marketing to Operations to Risk and Compliance, each team needs data to enable decision making and ensure that strategic objectives are achieved - while ensuring that customer and regulatory requirements are met at all times in the most reasonable and cost effective manner. And at the end of the day, most senior management wants to see data being utilized to drive value for shareholders. 

Why do we need data governance?

Data governance is about defining and enforcing controls that aid robust data accessibility while maintaining security and privacy of the data. Without effective data governance, organizations may not be able to maintain data consistencies across different systems. For example, customer addresses may be different in billing, logistics and customer service systems, directly impacting all aspects of revenues, cost and customer satisfaction.

Lack of data governance will also hamper regulatory compliance which could cause problems for companies that need to comply with the increasing number of data privacy and protection laws, such as the European Union's GDPR. A data governance program entails consistent data definitions and common data formats used across all systems for input, processing and reporting.

What are the Benefits of Data Governance?

Clean data: Data governance ensures that data is accurate, consistent and complete, which helps to avoid errors and improve decision-making based on reliable information.

Improved decision-making: When data is properly governed and clean, it leads to accurate and consistent data, making it easier for decision-makers to rely on. This can lead to better-informed decisions and ultimately improve business outcomes.

Reduced risk: Proper data governance helps mitigate the risk of data breaches, data loss and other security threats. By establishing controls around data access, monitoring, usage and quality, the data is protected and risks of e.g. cyber security breaches are reduced.

Enhanced collaboration: Data governance encourages teamwork across departments and allows for an easier sharing of information. 

Improved data security: Proper data governance helps protect sensitive and confidential information, ensuring for instance that only authorized personnel can access the data.

Operational efficiency: Data governance helps organizations streamline their processes, reduce redundancies and eliminate unnecessary steps which may lead to increased operational efficiency.

Data Governance by design  

In conclusion, for organisations looking to have strong and comprehensive data governance in place, it must be rooted in the day-to-day data collection, creation, processing, storage, and protection processes in order to achieve data integrity (i.e. the overall accuracy, completeness, and consistency of data).

Emphasis on data integrity can very well be considered and integrated into the daily processes and thus strengthen the data governance model and framework. Finally, when starting a data governance program, all relevant teams should be aware that these changes will require additional consideration and operational discipline by everyone involved.