Data governance is the instruction manual that every business needs

You wouldn’t build a wardrobe without instructions, so why risk your data?

Data is important, we all know that.

It’s so important that according to the research consultancy, Gartner, 90% of corporate strategies will “explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency” by the year 2022.

And as with any asset, how you look after it – historically and currently – is crucial to your business’s success.

In short, data governance is about how you look after data. It refers to the rules and processes that enable an organisation to have quality data throughout. Think of it as an essential framework through which you manage your data to meet your business needs.

Despite this, achieving company-wide buy-in for a data governance strategy can be hard work for three common reasons:

  1. It requires participation from multiple stakeholders across all business functions
  2. It gets confused with data compliance, auditing, management, protection and quality – of which it is none, yet essential for all
  3. It’s seen as an “IT thing” and not given the business support it needs

So, what’s this got to do with flatpack furniture?

Without instructions, assembling flatpack furniture can be a daunting, time-consuming and a downright thankless task. In fact, even with instructions it can be a daunting task.

Now imagine your data is a flatpack wardrobe. You have all the pieces and your end goal (a functioning wardrobe) but no instructions. Instead, you have your colleagues – all very different people with their own agendas and set of skills – trying to assemble the wardrobe.

AKA chaos.

You need instructions to get that wardrobe up, and the same applies to your data. Here’s why:

1) You’ll discover what’s what

Working out which parts are the wardrobe’s top, bottom, sides and back, and where it all needs to go, is going to be hard – or impossible – without that piece of paper. And the same applies to your data: a data governance strategy will provide the necessary documentation and processes required for you to get to know the data you have and the data you need. It provides a framework that ensures consistency in labelling, storage and management so you can access what you need when you need it.

2) You’ll know which tools you need

Screwdriver, Allen key, hammer – how can you start assembling when you don’t know which tools you’ll need, when and where? Equally, how can you embark on a new data initiative – such as a new MDM or PIM service – without a data governance process in place to assess what’s required?

3) You’ll be able to check the fixings

Your wardrobe instructions will provide a list of the fixings that should be included, and possibly even a few spares. No instructions means you won’t know if you have the right fixings or what the spares are for. Knowing what fixings you have is like identifying the data you need to achieve your data goals. Effective data governance will provide the procedures needed to ensure you can routinely identify which data is needed to meet the business’ evolving needs and goals.

4) You’ll know where the fixings go

Flatpack wardrobes have panels with pre-drilled holes of very similar sizes. Without any instructions it’ll be difficult – or impossible – to connect up the right cam dowels, locks and wooden dowels. Get it wrong and your panels won’t align and you risk damaging the wardrobe. When it comes to data, think of fixings like processes: they’re the mechanisms that determine how data moves through an organisation, that help keep it in the right place yet fluid too.

5) You’ll know when to start assembling different parts

Flatpack wardrobes often come in several boxes. Instructions will tell you when to open each box so you’re not left surrounded by a sea of boxes and wooden panels. A data governance strategy provides the same order and logic to your data integration: it works with your data integration strategy to ensure you’re running a data-focussed integration approach.

6) You’ll know why you need some helping hands

Whether it’s lifting a heavy panel or holding one in place, sometimes you need more than one person to assemble a wardrobe and the instruction manual will tell you this right at the start. The exact same principle applies for data. Data governance helps you get the right stakeholder buy-in and assign the right tasks to the right teams.

So just as the instruction manual tells you which fixings go where, which size screws to use, how many people you might need and what to check before you start, a data governance strategy provides the policies, roles, responsibilities and processes needed to help your business get the best out of their data – whether that be master data, reference data, big data or open data.

Ready to get organised? At Comma, we connect people with data to ensure that data governance is embraced at a business level. To find out how we do it – and the impact it has had for our clients – email russell.pointon@comma-group.com or visit our contact us page and fill out the online enquiry form. One of our Data Governance specialists will be on hand to help with any of your data related queries.

Read more about our data governance service.