Data Governance for Business Leaders: 3 Concepts to Understand

Author: Wavicle Data Solutions


At traditional organizations, IT departments tend to manage data by themselves in a silo. But when it comes to data governance, this is a mistake that can cause issues for other departments. At Wavicle, we believe business leaders must own their data in its entirety, whether they be in marketing, finance, or any other sector that relies on data for accurate reporting.


Put simply, data governance is a standardized approach to managing data from start to finish (i.e., the circle of life that encompasses acquisition, use, and disposal). This collection of processes, policies, and metrics puts business goals within reach by making your company’s use of data more efficient, effective, and compliant. Once in place, data governance provides a clear hierarchy in which everyone understands their relationship with—and responsibility for—quality data.


Keep in mind that data governance is not a one-off project you can set and forget. There are no shortcuts. To properly get into the mindset, think of data governance as an ongoing business function akin to accounting or human resources. And business leaders need to grasp it if they want to establish a single source of truth—the bedrock of all data architecture.


That said, don’t fret if you’re not fluent in the latest programming language. Data governance doesn’t require proficiency in hardware or software to get started. It simply calls for clear rules and guidelines for how people create, use, or share data. The focus here is more on human behavior than on technology processes.


Ready to get a grip on data governance? Here are three concepts to understand as you begin building a culture around data quality at your organization.


Quality is the goal


Cybersecurity and threat detection are clearly on everyone’s minds these days, but that’s not exactly the point of a sound data governance program. Recent research published in Venture Beat suggests that “high-quality data has overtaken data security as the most important motivator for data governance initiatives.” The article continues: “41% of IT leaders agreed that their business decision-making relies fundamentally on trustworthy, high-quality data. At the same time, 45% of those surveyed contend that problems with data quality are the biggest detractor from return-on-investment in data governance efforts.”


You may not have a definition for poor data quality at the ready, but everyone notices the results when data goes bad. It can manifest as anything that leads you to say things like, “I don’t trust that report.” From duplicates in your data to items that look eerily similar without matching, these red flags are a sign that your data quality is on the lower end of the spectrum. This can be solved by good housekeeping across your data practices. Regardless of industry, your C-suite—along with your directors of operations, sales, and accounting—all have a personal stake in the way data is governed. The more you can work together to establish definitions, policies, and processes, the better.


Catalogs can help


While the concept is technically distinct from data governance, a data catalog can help keep your quality data neat, tidy, and within reach at a moment’s notice. Think of it as a user guide for your unique data framework. Data catalogs organize the assets your team needs to function, using metadata to power quick and easy searches. They also provide a means of collecting, organizing, accessing, and enriching said metadata, which ultimately bolsters your data governance program.


Don’t depend on tools (yet)


Many exciting platforms exist in the marketplace that can help put your data governance goals within reach. Wavicle is a proud partner with several of them. But don’t go thinking that these leading-edge solutions will set the table for you in terms of strategy.


Tools are only as effective as the understanding that guides their use. So, it’s critical that your leadership team comes together on a solid data governance framework first before leaping to the current most exciting solution. Many experts will tell you to step back and ask yourself a hard question: “Do we understand data governance well enough to start using the tools to implement it?” This isn’t easy to answer, but doing so honestly will save you a great deal of time and money.


It’s time for the leadership at your business to step up and understand their data needs. As stated previously, IT isn’t the only one making data-driven decisions anymore—nor should they be. Data governance in the hands of stakeholders means projecting a business pipeline that everyone can effectively pursue. It will take time, but once everyone learns the necessary skills to articulate data requirements, entire organizations can grow smarter about business, together.


The data governance journey towards a single source of truth can be a long one. Wavicle is here to help you take the first step.