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data governance strategy

Data Governance Strategy: 4 Key Steps

How do you ensure your data governance strategy has a real and lasting impact on your business? There is no magic formula, but these four key steps should help you create a foundation for data governance that fits your needs. 

#1 Define the purpose of your data governance strategy

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to data governance. The most important first step to creating a lasting data governance strategy is to fully define and map out your objectives.

Targeting data maturity goals

There are several thresholds of maturity to cross when it comes to data: it is better to move forward little by little. Start by taking an inventory of the data you have available. This will help you understand where to look for data when it is needed. You can then map the company’s data to implement a cross-functional view of the data.

Having a goal in mind is equally important when you start to grow your data maturity level. Data governance is not something that you should rush. You must ensure that the business units understand where they can find the needed data. A very important aspect of data governance is to have a procedure of working with data; for example, everyone should know which business unit owns what data, who the queries go through and how long it may take to get their information.

Data governance 2.0: for whom?

Data governance concerns all companies whose core business is data – research firms, online media, but also sectors that rely on Business Intelligence (BI). All areas that need to do a lot of analysis need to use data. It is essential for them to put in place a solid data governance methodology. Data governance also affects companies with strong compliance constraints, such as banks and insurance companies. These companies need to use qualitative data to address issues such as anti-fraud and anti-money laundering laws.

 #2 Design the data governance strategy

Once you have set your initial objectives, you must associate concrete use cases with your company’s data governance. Ask yourself the right questions: what value will you get from it? What challenges will you address? How will you integrate the data governance procedure into your company’s day-to-day business? Be as pragmatic as possible. You need to choose use cases that will be both useful to your teams and simple enough to implement to ensure success. If these first cases go well, you will win the support of your teams. And you can ensure a long-term governance strategy!

Take the time to discuss with the business to understand their pain points. You will then be able to propose use cases that correspond to the needs and desires of your teams.

#3 Build the data governance framework

Define the rules and processes

With the help of the different stakeholders, write a data governance charter. Ask the actors who use the data to participate. They will be all the more involved in your project and will support you.

The data governance charter includes mission statements, explanations of the overall objectives of the strategy, and the distribution of responsibilities. Ensure that the established rules and processes are clear, documented, and accessible to all.

The Data Catalog is a great ally at this point: you can list all types of data in the company. Businesses will find all the answers to their questions, such as:

  • What exactly does the customer ID mean in your company?
  • Who is in charge of this definition?
  • Who owns this data?
  • Who can modify it and how?

Define responsibilities

To ensure that data governance is sustainable, everyone’s responsibilities must be formalized and clearly described. You can choose between several types of organizations for your teams.

  • Create a centralized unit (data office) that takes care of the organization and implementation of the data governance strategy for the whole company;
  • Let each team manage data governance in its own perimeter, independently;
  • Let each individual take responsibility for data governance.

If you opt for individual responsibility, ensure that all the businesses involved are mature enough to take it on. Don’t hesitate to discuss the organization with the stakeholders; you will see which system is best for your company and the teams themselves.

#4 Performance Tracking

Signs that the data culture is growing

It’s not always easy to measure the performance of your data governance. But you can see if your objectives have been met: have you managed to convince the business to work together? Building an impactful data culture means getting the various data-related team initiatives to work together.

Your approach is successful if you see that more and more employees are connecting to the data catalog, retrieving information and exchanging with each other. This means that the whole company has taken ownership of data and has integrated governance into its daily routine. Another way to check is to see if the use of data in specific business intelligence reports has increased.

Making the most of your data

The ultimate goal of data governance is to optimize data management and facilitate its business value. Take stock after completing your use cases: is the quality of the data collected by the company better than before? Have the business pain points disappeared? Has the initial objective been reached?

When it comes to data governance, the sky really is the limit. As more and more companies recognize the importance of baselining their own data governance strategies, they will be met with a wealth of resources, advice, and best practices. As you build your strategy over the next year, note how successful organizations are in achieving their goals. The best data governance is the one that fits your business situation and goals. A successful strategy has many benefits, including better team collaboration and decision-making.

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