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In today’s dynamic and ever-changing enterprise environment, Data Governance implementation should be a strategic initiative for organizations. The critical question is how to begin.

Businesses today capture huge amounts of data from various sources, and Data Governance helps them manage risk, maximize value, and reduce costs. 

Furthermore, Data Governance helps organizations monetize their data and generate value streams for future growth! 

And because of the enormous role data plays in supporting business strategy, it has become one of the trendiest topics.

Still, managing and governing the increasing data is no small thing, especially with the increasing regulations’ complexity too. Which led some people to assume Data Governance is too challenging to implement and refuse it outright.

But the truth is that trillions of dollars are lost yearly due to poor data practices.

Moreover, for data to have value and become an enterprise asset, it has to be accurate, securely stored in compliance with relevant regulations, and available to those who can use it. 

So, every organization should be taking steps to implement Data Governance!

It shouldn’t be that hard: as long as you try to follow the 7 steps we outline further down in this article to get you started with the best Data Governance program.

What is Data Governance?

First things first! Before we move forward, we want to ensure you understand precisely what Data Governance is.

Put simply: implementing Data Governance helps make sense of your data so you can use it as an asset rather than a liability.

Thus, enabling your organization to realize the full benefits of data and achieve Data Intelligence

More thoroughly, Data Governance is a systematic approach to managing the availability, integrity, usability, and security of the data employed in a company. 

Establishing a framework with a set of procedures that provide the users with the information they need to find, understand and trust the data, along with the capabilities to manage it and improve its usability and quality.

It encompasses the people, processes, and technology required to ensure data is fit for its intended purpose and meets precise standards and business rules as it is used throughout an organization.

Hence, we may say that while Enterprise Data Management is the goal, Data Governance is the framework that specifies the role, responsibilities, processes, and priorities to achieve it. 

It clarifies the “who, what, when, where, and why” of your organization’s data. And allows your business to realize the full benefits of data!

Businesses without a Data Governance strategy manage data to some degree within each department. Yet, the organization as a whole has little insight into or formal control over its data assets.

Therefore, Data Governance implementation is a must to empower organizations and their leadership to exercise authority and guided decisions.

The Benefits of Data Governance

By now, we hope you’re starting to understand more deeply why Data Governance is essential for many organizations and industries, as it brings meaning to an organization’s data!

Every benefit of having actionable insights comes from having a sound Data Governance program. 

Plus, an effective Data Governance strategy is the road map for data-driven organizations that search to do more than hold onto and store data. Instead, they want data to meet quality standards for informing their business practices and future steps!

Which makes it more evident than ever that, without accurate data, you’ll be wasting time and resources. After all, you cannot jump from a weak foundation, and Data Governance helps you keep that foundation strong.

Some of the benefits of implementing a Data Governance strategy:

  • Ensures compliance and mitigates risks:

    The ability to meet regulatory requirements around data security and privacy is critical today and is why most organizations have started thinking about Data Governance. Consequently, setting data access control policies and a program for recurrent monitoring of quality, security, and privacy checks, ensures your data management follows all regulations. And helps avoid or mitigate data-related risks and penalties.

  • Guarantees data quality and availability:

    With Data Governance processes, your organization does more than follow regulations; it also guarantees data quality! So, by bringing context to an organization’s data, Data Governance enables your teams to easily find, organize, document, and evaluate the quality of available information assets. Keeping data up to date and free from errors, accessible from one single source of truth. And empowering individuals to use data in the service of your business objectives.

  • Promotes a shared language and cross-organizational collaboration:

    Data governance provides a framework for cross-organizational collaboration through a shared language, which allows organizations to build common understanding and leverage the same, consistent, and trusted information. This way, teammates within and across departments can use the same terminology and analyze the same data to develop valuable insights! And above that, clarifying roles and responsibilities limits rework, eliminates confusion and siloes, and ensures data can be capitalized across the business.

  • Speeds informed decision-making and gives a competitive advantage:

    By embracing and implementing Data Governance procedures, you experience faster decision-making processes, which can give you a competitive edge. Also, Machine learning models can be developed to continuously capture insights to help make more informed, data-based business decisions.

  • Improves customer experience and increases profits:

    Data Governance keeps your data correct and reliable, allowing you to provide customers with helpful information and promotions and even communicate better with them during customer service interactions. It also leverages automation and helps you achieve operational excellence, allowing you to keep pace with change, accelerate growth and increase your revenue and profits!

How to implement Data Governance?

Implementing Data Governance is not as complex as it may seem, but it requires a systematic approach and automation. The most important part is creating a clear strategy; otherwise, your team will lack direction.

On the other hand, a well-laid-out plan gives organizations an understanding of what success looks like and a good roadmap for achieving it!

It all begins with making crucial decisions or requirements for the people and policies governing your data.

But then, of course, it’s also vital to make data integration part of your strategy, use new-generation technology, reduce data silos and look for long-term benefits for your company when defining clear and achievable data goals.

And even though Data Governance strategy requirements may vary according to your needs, the next steps are an excellent place to start when setting up a Data Governance framework in your company. 

Keep them in mind, and your effort will likely pay off later, with significant cost savings and progressive insights!

Key steps to implementing Data Governance

Finally, here are the 7 steps you need to undertake to implement Data Governance:

  1. Build a Data Governance team

    The first step in implementing effective Data Governance is to build a team responsible for governing and maintaining your data, including the chief data officer and key business heads. Each person should have clear responsibilities and be accountable for supporting data quality initiatives company-wide, aligned with business needs. Once this team is formed, data should be readily available for everyone in the business to ensure stakeholders can easily access the information they need to make data-driven decisions.

  2. Establish policies and standards

    From the very beginning, you will also need to establish the policies and standards that work for your enterprise – and assign data stewards whose role is to ensure those policies and standards turn into practice across the organization. Quick note: always align policies around data ownership, big data sets, data quality, data lineage, and data retention with broader data management strategies. And once the basic policy is closed, define data standards for all types of data sets that are expected to deliver the most value, allowing for better cross-functional decision-making and communication.

  3. Define a vision and communicate it effectively

    Effective communication is fundamental for all Data Governance implementations. So, as you define and communicate your vision, you should demonstrate to each team how a robust Data Governance program can benefit their jobs and how their actions contribute to overall success. Make the benefits feel more significant to them by Estimating the ROI. And in addition, plan a training program to get everyone on board and boost your implementation’s chances of success!

  4. Develop clear data processes

    After everyone understands how to use the data, your organization needs to develop clear and thoughtful data processes. These processes should follow a format that fits your organization’s goals and structure, including the definition of how data will be stored, moved, changed, accessed, and secured. Furthermore, Data Governance frameworks usually create a common language that makes it easy to communicate and comprehend these processes. And additionally, data-driven organizations also audit and monitor the processes in place to ensure the data remains reliable and usable, which is especially relevant for compliance in highly regulated industries.

  5. Incorporate the right technological solutions

    Organizations should invest in the right Data Governance technology, leveraging solutions, tools, and integrations that help build and reinforce strong governance initiatives. Because manual processes cannot keep pace with the volume and complexity of data, it’s crucial to automate Data Governance and keep up with the latest data-related trends and requirements. And advanced solutions include technology that helps enforce business rules, monitoring and reporting software, and data quality tools.

  6. Identify all the data domains

    Identify the different data elements that your reporting will use and the data types and values associated with those elements. Next, assign domain owners and begin establishing a stewardship hierarchy. Also, by flagging data domains, you will identify additional stakeholders to be included in your operating model. As can happen in customer data, where you want to be sure everyone who uses it takes part in the governance undertaking.

  7. Set up data controls and track progress

    Set up appropriate controls and data thresholds to optimize your data quality and integrity. Then, develop report processes and track progress – by defining and applying metrics to evaluate and measure the various aspects of your Data Governance program to understand its impact, value, and relevance across the organization. Last but not least, establish a feedback mechanism to pick up, prioritize and resolve data-related issues!

Final considerations

As Data Governance seems to be here to stay, any forward-thinking organization must consider how designing a Data Governance implementation plan will help them reach their business goals.

Of course, implementing Data Governance is a tall order unless you choose the right strategies, partners, and tools to maximize your data’s value.

Remember, Data Governance doesn’t need to be complex; it needs to be intentional! 

Further, establishing a good plan early and following the above steps will provide you with the experience you need to course-correct when things get tough.

As data keeps growing exponentially and becoming more complex, more technologies enter the market, and new regulations are put into law that organizations must be compliant with, the importance of Data Governance will, in fact, increase over time!

So, make governance a key part of your data strategy and keep pace with change with an adaptive Data Governance program that scales with your organization!

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