IT Management

If your organization has enough data to warrant using a mainframe, you’ve probably decided you need a formal data governance program.

Factors influencing this decision may include:

• The need for compliance with regulatory or contractual requirements
• Concerns over customer privacy and protection of sensitive information
• The need to earn greater value from your information assets or reduce costs or complexity.

Once you’ve decided to move from informal to formal data governance, you’ll need to answer two questions:

1. What is data governance?
2. What type of data governance is right for you?

Here’s a short definition: Data governance is the exercise of decision-making and authority for data-related matters. Here’s a bit longer definition: Data governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models that describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.

How is data governance different from good, solid management? In small organizations, where the entire management team operates on a first-name basis, they may be nearly indistinguishable. But larger organizations are different. Data flows into, through, and out of many organizational silos, with nobody empowered (or willing) to take responsibility for its entire journey through systems, databases, and processes. Stakeholders don’t know each other or even how to find each other. Cross-functional decisions become difficult.

Still, cross-functional decisions are critical. Stakeholders scattered all across the company’s organization chart need to come together to make policy and other types of rules, to enforce them, and to resolve issues with enterprise impact. But before they can make data-related decisions, they must  “decide how to decide.” They need rules of engagement and must know how and where to focus their efforts; they need a framework for data governance.

Data Governance Frameworks

Frameworks help us organize how we think and communicate about complicated or ambiguous concepts. If your organization settles on a framework for your data governance program, your people can more easily achieve clarity of thought and purpose, maintain scope and focus, establish accountabilities, and define measurable successes.

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