29 July 2022

What is Data Governance?

Data Governance: Definition and Overview

What is Data Governance?

Data governance is defined as “the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity and security of the data in enterprise systems.” Simply put, data governance covers all the rules and processes that ensure company data’s organization, protection, and management.

Indispensable for analytics, data enables your company to make better and more informed decisions. With proper data governance, data is more effective. Additionally, good data governance ensures that the data you and your teams use is correct, consistent, and accessible to the right people in the company.

Data governance enables you to:

  • Gather data from across the enterprise and get a global view of it;
  • Identify data sources and processes;
  • Verify data quality;
  • Ensure data integration;
  • Ensure data compliance or compliance with data protection laws and regulations;
  • Allow the business teams to analyze and present the data;
  • Educate the company on the need to use data correctly.

Without effective data governance, companies run the risk of running into data consistency issues, which in turn results in unreliable enterprise and business intelligence reporting.

Do you need a data governance strategy?

If you are concerned about any of the following issues, then implementing a data governance strategy is the solution for your business:

  • You want to analyze your data in more detail.
  • You need to make data-driven decisions to keep up with the competition.
  • New security regulations require stricter control of your data.
  • The budget to store your data is too large: you have duplicates, incorrect or obsolete data. Analyses are distorted and slow down the progress of your business.
  • You encounter data security problems: access is open to everyone when you would like it to be restricted.
  • You have to manage several different databases (acquisition of data from another company, for example).

Implementing data governance in 3 essential steps

#1 Inventory and map the company’s data

The first step to establishing data governance is knowing where the company’s data is stored and identifying it. Next, you can look at its lifecycle within the enterprise: What is the use of the data? How is it transformed? By whom?

A data catalog is essential to get an overview of all data. Since it brings together all the company’s data, you can map it more efficiently and establish a common overview.

#2 Create a data-driven organization

The implementation of data governance looks different depending on the project’s criticality and the company’s size. In all cases, it is essential to determine the roles and responsibilities of each person in relation to the data. Start by appointing Data Owners: these are the people who manage the data in their business area. For example, the human resources manager manages the company’s employee data.

It is also crucial to appoint one or more data governance managers to orchestrate all actions.

#3 Promote and encourage data culture

Once you have all the tools necessary to manage data, and have identified data managers, the next step is to encourage other business teams to utilize data in their decision-making. Your challenge will be to promote the data culture and the data-driven approach among your teams. To achieve this, it is useful to:

  • Schedule different training sessions for all levels (data analysis, dashboard creation);
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and the dissemination of best practices through a recurring meeting, an idea box on your intranet, or a data newsletter. The possibilities are numerous!

How to convince your teams

When building your governance strategy, it’s important to involve all teams as early as possible. You can appoint one or more people to be responsible for data governance, such as a Chief Data Officer, but the decision-making doesn’t have to be done solely by them. For example, the business and IT teams provide a view of the field that is essential to verify that the strategy used is effective.

To identify data-related issues, ask the various business units. You can then involve them and convince them to participate in the data governance project.

Best practices

Establish clear rules

When implementing your data governance strategy, it is likely to run into some resistance along the way. This is because data governance tends to restrict how data is handled within the organization. A vital step to ensuring your governance project’s success is establishing clear and comprehensive guidelines. These rules can be outlined by a data governance committee established within your organization.

Provide training

All teams in the company must have the tools to use data effectively. When it comes to data, consistency is vital. Consider carrying out a workshop or training session so that everyone can be on the same page about your data governance objectives.

Communicate clearly and often

Consistent communication throughout all stages of the project is key. Ensure that all project roles and ownership are clearly defined.

Choose the right Data Catalog

Choosing the right data catalog is perhaps one of the most important factors for your project. It is virtually impossible to establish solid data governance without a data catalog. Data catalogs are the golden tool for your governance project as they gather all of your organization’s data in one place, making it accessible to all.


Good data governance will protect you from serious data issues, especially when it comes to big data. Creating a data governance plan ensures that all data in your enterprise is tracked, cataloged, and protected. Without such a plan, it will be more difficult for your business to manage the volume and quality of information that is currently being generated. In the end, your governance project is more than just about ensuring data is reliable—it’s about ensuring that your company has access to all the information it needs to effectively make informed decisions.

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