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Data governance: what is it, and why it matters

Let’s begin with the bottom line: regardless of industry, in a world of ‘Big Data’ high quality data management is fast becoming the key competitive differentiator between market leaders and the rest of the pack.


With increasing reliance on data-driven decision-making, enterprises need to reach for more effective practices around data management to drive growth and deliver better business outcomes. But data management is only part of the picture.

For data management to be successful, enterprises must leverage the right data for the right purposes to unlock the maximum financial benefits. At the same time, it’s important for them to mitigate the risks of poor-quality data.

To derive the best value from your data takes more than data management. It takes strategy. It requires data governance.


What is data governance?

Data governance refers to an enterprise’s policies and processes for managing and controlling data in order to ensure security, integrity, and usability within its systems.

It’s a set of internal standards, informed by data privacy regulations and organisational best practices, designed to ensure high-quality management of data throughout its lifecycle.

By improving data quality and mitigating data security risks, data governance facilitates better business decision-making, practices, and outcomes.


Why is data governance needed?

Effective data governance is needed to ensure high-quality data analytics, which leads to better decision-making. It also helps to minimize errors and maintain the integrity of your organisational data.  

In recent years, data governance has arguably moved from being a necessary evil to maintain compliance with increasingly restrictive data privacy laws, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to becoming a key driver for business growth.

Here are some of the benefits of data governance:

  • Data Compliance: By 2023, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by data privacy and data privacy regulations. Wherever they operate, all enterprises need to ensure they’re compliant. 
  • Data Security: Whether internal or external, accidental or intentional, a data breach can be costly to both your business and its reputation. The right security matters.
  • Data Quality: By reducing errors and improving data quality, decision-makers stay more accurately informed. 
  • Data Standardization: Common definitions of data alongside a single source of truth across the organisation create clarity and help build knowledge and understanding.
  • Data Mapping: Clearer oversight of data locations and relationships makes it easier to find and use, streamlining day-to-day workflows, and driving efficiencies. 
  • Data Management: Data governance provides strategic guidance for data management. It helps to establish questions around rightful ownership, access, security, compliance, and approval.

Data governance versus data management

Data governance and data management are closely related and strongly connected, but they’re not synonymous. In simple terms, data governance sets out the policies and procedures, and data management puts them to work. 

Within an enterprise, data management is how you handle and use data in terms of collection, storage, security, and compliance. Data management includes the processes and logistics of data handling within an organisation.  

On the other hand, data governance (or data management strategy) is the set of guiding principles behind your data management. Its focus is on increasing the strategic value of the available data, ensuring compliance, standardising data and systems, making cost-effective use of data management tools, and developing skills and knowledge around data.


How do you ensure good data governance?

Data governance determines how the data is processed through your organisation. It’s possible to do data management without data governance, but it’s likely to be less efficient, less secure, and less compliant. 

Good data governance relies on three things: people, processes, and technology. Technology alone won’t take care of data governance, it’s there to support it. For that reason, you need scalable software that can help enact your data governance policies and procedures across your enterprise. 

WorkPoint 365 offers highly configurable solutions for document and data handling, from frictionless process management to GDPR-compliant data governance.

Learn more about WorkPoint 365 and how it can help your enterprise to streamline and standardise data management, and enact your data governance policies.