Demystifying Data Governance - What it really is and why it’s crucial to growing your business

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What it really is and why it’s crucial to growing your business

Data Governance
can seem like an overwhelming and frankly, tedious topic—one that many business leaders would rather not have to think about or prioritize. But that’s largely because data governance is a misunderstood concept, often talked about in ways that make it seem more complicated—and less essential, beneficial, and powerful for your company—than it actually is. 

So let’s boil it down.

At its most basic, data governance is about how an organization manages its data, who can access it, how it’s used, what protects it, and who’s overseeing it.

Data governance refers to the frameworks—all processes, procedures, and protocols—by which an organization establishes how its data assets are handled to ensure quality, integrity, and security, optimizing the ability to leverage data toward business goals.

Historically, data governance has been perceived as very top-down and bureaucratic, both complex and dull—something that’s undertaken only to stay in compliance and avoid fines. While it’s true that data governance is a critical part of ensuring your company’s regulatory compliance, modern data governance is so much more. As Harvard Business School puts it, “Data governance is important because it ensures an organization’s data has more potential to be an asset than a liability.”

In recent years, the necessity and velocity of digital transformation, combined with the exploding supply and perpetual flow of data, and our growing reliance on data for all types of business decisions, have made effective data governance absolutely critical. 

Data is only as valuable to your enterprise as it is useful, and it’s only as useful as it is well managed, reliable, accessible, and secure. The reality is that, without effective data governance, today’s massive data volumes can actually create chaos, inefficiency, and liability—costing your organization time and money, and hindering progress toward your goals.

Good data governance supercharges the value of your available data—helping to make it arguably your company’s most valuable resource. Data governance increases organizational efficiency (breaking down silos, automating, etc.), and strengthens your team’s confidence in the data they’re working with—knowing it’s up-to-date, complete, and accurate enables staff to use data more effectively. Data governance reduces the liability and costs associated with poor quality data (from mistakes to missed opportunities) and helps prevent the crisis of a costly data breach. Further, a formal framework of clearly defined rules and practices improves accountability company-wide, as well as transparency for stakeholders, both internal and external. It bolsters customer confidence while helping you deliver better value.

Every organization needs its own unique framework, tailored specifically to industry, business model, objectives, the types of data you have available and how you use them. However, a few fundamental concepts undergird all effective data governance, encompassing, broadly, people, processes, and technologies. Here are the four main components of data governance—and key questions to ask as you evaluate or plan your enterprise’s strategies:

Quality. How does our organization ensure that our data is accurate, high quality, complete, trustworthy for decision-making, and provides beneficial insights? What protections and protocols help us identify and weed out subpar data?
Security. What safeguards are in place to guarantee that only authorized parties can access and use our data? Do we have appropriate checks and balances to keep data safe yet available and useful to those who need it? What systems (encryption, authentication, monitoring, etc.) prevent interference by bad actors? 
Privacy. How are we protecting sensitive data (such as HR or financial information in any organization, or industry-specific data such as medical records)? What are the applicable laws and regulations, and how do we ensure compliance across all processes, workflows, and frameworks? What internal standards and processes focus on protecting the crucial data privacy of individuals?
Oversight. Who in the organization is responsible for the stewardship of our data assets—ensuring that we’re conducting proper, comprehensive data governance? This is typically a group or committee of stakeholders from across the organization, from executives to technology experts to data management professionals, and various end users.

When it’s time to establish or upgrade your organization’s data governance frameworks, it’s important to begin by defining your objectives. How can we best leverage our data to achieve our business goals? What policies, standards, procedures, processes, workflows, and technology tools will optimize our data usage, and ultimately drive business growth?

At Lukasa, we’re experts in business process analysis, innovative technologies, automation, and data optimization. We take a people-first, partnership approach with every client, working side-by-side with your existing team to gain a holistic understanding of your enterprise’s overarching goals, pain points, and data usage/management strategies. Analyzing your company’s needs and objectives through a modern lens, we plan and execute a comprehensive custom data governance framework. Through detailed process mapping and implementation of the most effective technologies for your unique business—we help you get the most out of your data and reach your goals.

About Lukasa -
Lukasa empowers small-to-medium-sized businesses by designing and implementing custom business and technology solutions that drive efficiency, productivity, and innovation, enabling them to stay ahead in today’s rapidly-changing competitive landscape.