4 Minute Read

Demystifying Data Governance

In today’s data-driven world, organisations are accumulating vast amounts of data at an unprecedented rate. This surge in data has led to various challenges, including data security breaches, privacy concerns, and regulatory compliance issues, and if you get these wrong it can have severe consequences, from damaged brand reputation to hefty fines.

In order to address these challenges and circumnavigate the severe consequences of non-compliance, businesses must implement a robust data governance framework. And, if you’re striving to become a truly data-driven organisation, then having a comprehensive data governance strategy in place is non-negotiable.


What is Data Governance, and why is it important?

Let’s start at the beginning; what actually is data governance?
According to The Data Governance Institute

“Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.”

In simpler terms, data governance establishes the foundation for collecting, managing, and releasing data for improved quality, accessibility and use. This includes defining the policies, standards, architecture, decision-making structure and issues resolutions process around your data.

Aside from the fore-mentioned repercussions of not having a defined data governance framework in place, it’s essential to formulate a data governance strategy so you can achieve the following:

  • Data quality and accuracy
  • Compliance and Risk Management
  • Efficiency and Cost Reduction
  • Data Privacy and Security
  • Data Monetisation



Creating & Implementing your Data Governance Strategy

To help guide you on your own data governance strategy, we’ve broken this down in to 5 steps.

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Objectives
When implementing a data governance strategy, it is important to first outline the goals and expected outcome of the strategy. Ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve, which internal stakeholders need to feed into this strategy, and what success looks like for your organisation.

You should also consider what people, processes and technologies will sit at the core of your strategy, and how can you ensure your strategy is adaptable to change and can pivot based on changing business factors.

Step 2: Secure stakeholder buy-in
Data governance initiatives require collaboration and engagement from various business units. Therefore, a key part of your planning process should be ensuring alignment with internal stakeholders.

Make sure you’re involving key stakeholders from across the organisation, including business users, IT teams, legal, compliance, and executive leadership, and then mutually agreeing on what a ‘good’ data governance strategy looks like.

Gaining their buy-in is important so that relevant stakeholders are onboard with why a robust data governance strategy is needed and what the benefits are, so you can ensure continuous collaboration.

Step 3: Establish Roles and Responsibilities
Your next step is to establish who will feed into your data governance initiative. Take time to outline what the required roles are, and what responsibilities and scope for these roles will be. This could include roles such as data engineers, data analysts, and data architects. You can then evaluate if the personnel and skillset already exists within your organisation, or if you need to up-skill your workforce through training or collaborating with external partners.

It’s important to remember that in a data-driven organisation everyone is responsible for data governance. It’s not just down to the ‘data experts’ to oversee data governance – essentially any function who touches data needs to be aware of data governance practices. This could include marketing, sales or finance functions.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Technologies
Once you’ve outlined the roles and responsibilities required to implement and manage your data governance function, you then need to review whether you have the technological capabilities to fulfill these requirements efficiently.

These tools should support you with data collection, data storage, data analysis, data architecture and data management, amongst other capabilities. Evaluate what tools you already have at your disposal so you can then decipher any gaps in your technology stack.

Step 5: Outline Your Processes
The last stage in defining your data governance strategy is to develop comprehensive policies and guidelines that cover data classification, data access controls, data retention, data quality standards, and privacy requirements. You should ensure these policies are aligned with relevant regulations and industry best practices, and are easily accessible to stakeholders around the business.

Documenting these processes will ensure that, regardless of who is actioning certain aspects of your governance strategy, the outcome will always be the same. There should be no human error or user discrepancy.

Data governance is an ongoing process and so your strategy should evolve over time to stay in line with your business’s goals and objectives; it needs to be able to evolve as your data does too. As such, you should consider your process for evaluation and continuous improvement so you can be sure that your plan is future-proofed.

Once you’ve worked your way through these 5 steps you’re ready to get going with implementing your data governance strategy.



Getting started

Data governance is a critical aspect of modern organisations. By implementing a robust data governance framework, businesses can establish trust in their data, ensure compliance with regulations, and drive efficiency.

Furthermore, effective data governance allows organisations to unlock the full potential of their data assets, leading to improved decision-making, enhanced customer experiences, and sustainable business growth.

Prioritising data governance is not just a compliance requirement, but a strategic imperative for organisations seeking to thrive in the data-driven era.

If you’d like to find out more about creating and implementing a data governance strategy, or if you’re looking for external support to help kickstart data governance in your organisation, then reach out to the team at Ipsos Jarmany today.

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