By Madhu Nair on Feb 16, 2015
This is the second of our Data Governance Series. Read the first part here.
The Four Pillars of Data Governance
Our Data Governance Commandments are simple principles that can help your organization get its data story straight, and get more value from customer, performance or employee data.
Data governance is a wide-reaching disciple, but like all walks of life, there are a handful of essential elements you need in place before you can start really enjoying the benefits of a good data governance strategy. These are the four key pillars of data governance:
Data is like any other asset your business has: It needs to be properly managed and maintained to ensure it continues delivering the best results.
Enter the data steward; a role dedicated to managing, curating and monitoring the flow of data through your organization. This can be a dedicated individual managing data full-time, or just a role appended to an existing employee’s tasks.
But do you really need one? If you take your data seriously, then someone should certainly be taking on this role; even if they only do it part-time.
So what are these data stewards doing with your data exactly? That’s for you to decide, and it’s the quantity and quality of these processes that will determine just how successful your data governance program is.
Whatever cleansing, cleaning and data management processes you undertake, you need to make sure they’re linked to your organization’s key metrics. Data accuracy, accessibility, consistency and completeness all make fine starting metrics, but you should add to these based on your strategic goals.
No matter how ordered your data is, it still needs somewhere to go, so you need to make sure your data warehouse is up to task, and is able to hold all your data in an organized fashion that complies with all your regulatory obligations.
But as data begins filling up your data warehouse, you’ll need to improve your level of data control and consider investing in a tool to better manage metadata: the data about other data. By managing metadata, you master the data itself, and can better anticipate data bottlenecks and discrepancies that could impact your data’s performance.
More importantly, metadata management allows you to better manage the flow of data—wherever it is going. You can manage and better control your data not just within the data warehouse or a business analytics tool, but across all systems, increasing transparency and minimizing security and compliance risks.
But even if you can control data across all your systems, you also need to ensure you have the analytics to put the data to use. Unless actionable insights are gleaned from your data, it’s just taking up space and gathering dust.
For your data governance to really deliver—and keep delivering—you need to follow best practices.
Stakeholders must be identified and held accountable, strategies must be in place to evolve your data workflows, and data KPIs must be measured and monitored. But that’s just the start. Data governance best practices are evolving rapidly, and only by keeping your finger on the pulse of the data industry can you prepare your governance strategy to succeed.
How Many Have You Got?
These four pillars are essential to holding up a great data governance strategy, and if you’re missing even one of them, you’re severely limiting the value and reliability of your data.
If you’re struggling to get all the pillars in place, you might want to read our short guide to data governance success.