As a business or organization, we rely heavily on information to make decisions from finance, to capital purchases, to growth or the need to consolidate. And the reality is our decisions are only as good as the information we base them on. How we generate, store, use and maintain our corporate knowledge, financial history and general business practices will help define how well informed we are to make big decisions, how we address risk management and how we, as a business, stay relevant in this ever changing business world. Creating effective data governance is the key to this.
What is Data Governance?
Data governance connects business strategy with information policy. As a business we must create policies and processes that define how we do practice and how information is generated, stored, used, and maintained across a business. Effective data governance allows us to be confident in the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in our day to day decisions as well as when it comes to the big picture decisions. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures, and a plan to execute those procedures. Effective data governance serves an important function within the enterprise, setting the parameters for data management and usage, creating processes for resolving data issues and enabling business users to make decisions based on high-quality data and well-managed information assets. How do we create this effective data governance?
Data Ownership and Responsibilities or Roles
As noted above, there needs to be a governing body or council as part of an effective data governance. But first, as a business or organization, you must be clear as to who owns the data, who is the custodian or steward of this data and who should have access to this data. Once you have defined these significant roles, the active roles must be defined. These will include who is responsible for the data itself – who ensures it is accurate, that systems are in place to make it accessible, complete and up to date. This will include understand and working with the parameters of policies and procedures about how to store data, how to archive, back it up, and protect or secure it from theft or loss. This is an ongoing process. A procedure will also need to be identified that will create processes and timelines, checks and balances to ensure compliance with both business and government regulations. In some organizations, staff will be hired to undertake this job solely. In other organizations, particular staff from each unit, team or working group may be assigned to ensure their unit’s information in properly maintained as per the effective data governance approach of the organization as a whole. Regardless of how the team is created, it is important that this team also include an IT representative, someone who is well aware of the technology that is available to support any effective data governance.
Developing Process of Information / Data Collection and Storage
Now that you have created your core group of staff as well as your governing body or council, you need to look at the system itself. What do you need to achieve with your information management? How do you use information stored, archived? Do you require ongoing access or more for historical purposes? Do you use the information to make ongoing decisions or direction for the business? You need to answer all these questions as it will define what your actual policies and procedures will look like as part of your effective data governance. Many organizations see this process as overwhelming so it is important to take it piece by piece, build the basics that will apply to all information or data, and allow flexibility in the process to add when and where needed.
Part of developing this process is to look at what is currently in place, what is working and what could require improvements – this will become the foundation of your discussions from this point onward. Look at procedures currently in place, the staff involved and the technology being used. When creating your new processes keep in mind that key to effective data governance is appropriate access to data – ensure that whatever system you create is accessible and readily available to those requiring it. There are many storage opportunities that allow secure access 24/7 and off site / any location via the computer. This may be what your organization requires. Find out what each unit requires and ensure the basic requirements are met for all. And ensure that you have buy-in from all units – they need to be sold on the importance of effective data governance and the impact it will have on their day to day work – they also need to realize their role and who is accountable to ensure the integrity of information that is stored. The goal is to create one streamlined system that will benefit your organization as a whole.
About the Author
This article was written by Phil Steel, an experienced writer who is specialized in data governance topics.
Photo credit: Com Salud