The Importance of a Data Governance Framework

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on Data Governance, taken from a paper written by Manager Partner Virginia Flores.

The importance of a solid data governance framework within an organization cannot be understated.  As companies seek to become more competitive, it is important to understand the dynamics of not only getting the correct information to the right people at the right time but understanding the dynamics of the companies they touch, whether they are vendors, customers or partners.  There are different focus areas of data governance as shown by the following graphic:

Although there are different focus areas, the basic tenet of a data governance structure is the same, no matter which flavor of data governance is chosen; the standardization of data definitions, data types and business rules across the organization.  In general, Data governance (DG) refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise.  It is the focus on enterprise data and specifies what it means, where it should come from, who wants it, who can have it and when, who can change it and when, and who absolutely should not have it under any circumstances. Data governance ensures that these data-focused questions are asked at the appropriate times and answered by the ‘right’ people. The ‘right’ people are those who have a thorough understanding of the data, the laws and policies that drive the data, and the organization’s use and purpose for the data.  Not highlighted in the above graphic but just as important, data governance also refers to the roles of data stewards: those people within the organization who are assigned ownership and responsibility for data content, metadata and data quality; who act as intermediaries between the IT organization and the business units to provide consistent and reliable data across the organization.  The important idea here is the fact that data content and data quality must be owned in large part by the business units who provide feedback and guidance to the data stewards.  It is a common misperception that because IT supports the hardware and applications which house the data, they must have responsibility for the data as well.  Data quality is not an IT problem.  IT can help fix it, but the business must own the problem.

In the next post, we will talk about some of the barriers to successful data governance.