Most companies have sort of a fragmented, haphazard way of gathering and storing data. It’s not uncommon for companies to take a siloed approach to obtaining data, with each department gathering data on its own and designing its own rules for how to manage it. In looking at the big picture, companies may use the same data for differing purposes. Without a data governance framework, staff often duplicates efforts because there isn’t a designated way to locate needed information from a central source.
After the financial crisis and the collapse of major corporations such as Enron, governments and regulators took a deeper look at the types of data that corporations were gathering and looked for ways to ensure that corporations were collecting accurate, reliable data. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, along with other regulations, motivated board directors and executives to understand the data that was driving their businesses and to be accountable for the data their corporations put forth.
It was through these events that corporations began to realize that they needed to set some guidelines and rules for managing and storing data. Data governance is the process of building a model for managing enterprise data and a system for creating and manipulating data across an entire organization. Data governance requires working with more than one existing platform or program.
Before creating a data governance framework, companies need to know where their data is and how it’s being used in various capacities throughout the organization. This process, in and of itself, is a major undertaking for some organizations. Corporations will need to look at who owns the data, address inconsistencies in the data and provide solutions regarding the need for big data.
Data governance must account for standards, policies and reusable models. Management teams need to create rules and guidelines for all types of activities. A data governance framework sets the parameters for how to manage data, use data and resolve issues with data. These processes reduce costs and complexity while assisting companies in managing risks and remaining in legal compliance.
Essentially, a data governance framework is where business meets IT. Having a good data governance framework will support centralized decision-making. Data governance and how well a company manages it is also something that can become an issue at the time of acquisition.
What Is Data Stewardship?
Data stewardship adds another dimension to data governance, which complicates it. Corporations need to train their employees that certain types of data don’t belong to the company or to them but to other people or organizations. Employees must have a healthy respect for data and be encouraged to adopt a stewardship mindset regarding it.
As companies develop stewardship policies and processes around data governance, they need to consider how those policies and processes align with the corporate culture. A company’s approach to data governance must factor into how they manage data so that it continues to meet the needs of the business while also producing quality and consistency of data.
One of the biggest challenges in accomplishing this is identifying who owns the data, how to define the data, how to overcome inconsistencies in the definition across different departments and how to use big data to support quality decision-making. In addition, certain business units or individual employees may be reluctant to abide by or enforce the company’s policies on data usage.
Developing a Data Governance Framework
The start of a data governance framework project may have one of several origins. Often, executives realize the need for a data governance framework and initiate the effort from the top-down. Developing a data governance framework may also be the result of the need for compliance or as part of an existing business project. Regardless of how the project gets its start, new efforts can help to find employees who are interested in leading, supporting or advocating for the project.
For a new data governance project to be successful, a corporation’s culture must support the project and understand how it supports centralized decision-making. Those involved, including business executives and managers, need to see the project as more than just an IT issue. It’s necessary for business units and IT to work together on the project. As difficult as it may be, and as many challenges as it presents, those involved need to be willing to see the project as more than an academic exercise and be committed to seeing the process through to fruition. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge that organization structures are fragmented and that the team will need numerous points for coordination.
Developing a data governance framework is a process that takes time — sometimes several years. Corporations should plan to take adequate time to plan their data governance framework carefully. They should enlist the help of the right people and take care to identify and use the appropriate tools and technology. The good news is that nearly all businesses have some data and some systems to start with. It’s usually not necessary to start completely from scratch.
Businesses produce a lot of data. Teams working on a data governance framework need to consider all the people, processes and technologies that they have and work together to find ways to bring their efforts together to manage all the data within one system. Date governance teams will have to work on developing the framework in two parts — strategy and execution.
The data governance framework must touch all parts of the data management process, including databases, data models, individual technologies, and the people who create and retain the data. Teams will need to figure out how to replicate rules within applications to create faster and better solutions.
Developing a data governance framework is part of a modern governance strategy. Bringing so many employees and strategists together requires a highly secure, modern board governance system like BoardEffect. Finally, consider that developing a data governance framework is an ongoing process, one that will need to be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness over time.