Everybody needs data governance, that’s an easy thing to say. The real challenge is in implementing a program that brings value without bogging down the process or burdening your team with tasks they perceive as tedious or of little value. Data governance absolutely has some inherent challenges, but focusing on the value not only helps to justify it, but it can also frame your program and position it for success.
Let’s start with what those challenges are, before diving into the real value you can expect to receive from a well-designed governance program.
First and foremost, data governance is a huge topic, and just understanding what to do and how to start can feel overwhelming and nebulous in the early stages. Many companies struggle with the practice, in fact a recent survey found that about two-thirds of data professionals cite incomplete understanding of data governance as a major challenge for the organizations they support. They know they need it, but many aren’t really sure how to do it, or what it should look like, much less which concrete steps they can take to ensure success.
Another challenging factor, particularly for IT organizations, is that when data governance is done right it’s more about the people and processes, and less about executing a great technical solution (although that can absolutely be a facet of the program!). You’ll spend more time communicating, creating processes, and marketing the program than you will on deploying software. All the technical wizardry in the world can’t implement a data governance program if the political will isn’t there for the organization to put in place a framework and process for governance.
It’s a double-edged sword, however, as there’s a risk of creating a governance bureaucracy that bogs down in process and doesn’t deliver to the real potential of data governance. When leaders embark on a program, the benefits they’re chasing are real and urgent, but traditional methods of implementing governance can be slow and cumbersome, and participant enthusiasm can wane over time if they don’t feel like they’re making progress.
Wow, those are some big challenges! But they aren’t foregone conclusions, and they don’t have to be a defining feature of data governance. A well-designed program that sidesteps some of these obstacles can offer real, tangible value to your organization. Such as…
- Data quality. The number one factor driving organizations’ governance efforts is an improvement in data quality. Everybody wants data that is accurate and reliable, which leads to better decisions and increased productivity and profits.
- Risk reduction. Data inherently carries risk, and with the increase in regulatory and compliance laws targeting data, managing and reducing that risk means governing your data.
- Faster and better insights. Governed data reduces the time it takes to create new and novel insights through analytics and reporting by putting the available data at your analysts’ fingertips, and clarifying how it can and should be used correctly.
Next generation data governance focuses on governing the data you actually use, and basing your program around meeting the minimum compliance, audit, and quality requirements necessary to meet your data goals. Your program should be streamlined to meeting these minimum needs with the least amount of bureaucracy, waste, and risk possible. There are some fantastic tools available to decrease the amount of manual effort your team needs to expend, and in combination with a lean, focused methodology you should be reaping the rewards of governed data faster than ever before.
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