Why Data Governance is Important and What Skills are Key for it?

By CIOReview | Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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In today’s world where data has acquired greater importance, ‘Data Governance’ can never be an afterthought. Organizations contain exponentially growing data volumes encompassing the every aspect of the organization’s internal and external activities related to clients and partners. Data Governance thus becomes imperative for the organization to achieve accurate and actionable insights through error-free and reliable business analysis.

When organizations say they’re plunging into the deep waters of a Data Governance program, they typically mean that they want to improve existing operational standards across the enterprise while implementing high-level Data Governance policies at the same time. An effective Data Governance policy results in availability of high quality organizational data. This, in turn leads to better management of business operations and supply chains, and improved efficiencies in marketing and customer relationship management.

There are two sets of activities involved in efficiently running a Data Governance program and these two sets require very different skill sets. The reason behind this is that Data Governance roles and responsibilities are also very different: people involved at the top level decide governance policies and translate them into objectives and rules of engagement for the lower level teams to follow as they build, monitor and manage individual data controls. It comes as a no-brainer that it is in every organization’s interest to manage the data well.

While there are many benefits of Data Governance, there are a few challenges as well. One thing should be made clear that Data Governance doesn’t provide a quick-fix solution. It is an ongoing process and the results are slow and cumulative, as different parts of the organization organize and align themselves to meet common Data Governance targets. The biggest challenge to deploying Data Governance projects is the lack of understanding of the utility of Data Governance. There is always a need to persuade the top management of an organization to make the investments required to implement Data Governance projects.

There are companies that prefer creating layers of data stewards with well-defined responsibilities. Typically, they’re organized into groups or hierarchies focused on specific information issues.

Such hierarchies include high-level roles with titles such as "lead steward" or "enterprise steward." The people filling these roles might also serve on Data Governance councils, effectively tying together various strands of Data Governance and data stewardship.

So, what kind of resources does one need for a secure Data Governance program? And what skills and knowledge is required to make the program a success? The answers to these questions depend to a large extent on the Data Governance model you adopt and the type of Data Governance framework you put in place.

Key Skill Sets

The most important skill a Data Governance manager should have is the ability to ask the question, get an answer from senior management and validate it with business stakeholders. Next comes the ability to recognize danger in the answers you receive and the ability to learn how to respond to such challenges is also critical to the long-term survival of a Data Governance program.

A Data Governance manager is responsible for implementation and oversight of the company’s data management goals, standards, practices, process, and technologies. He is a person who has excellent communication skills and is in charge of organizing and streamlining the process with which data is collected, shared, utilized, protected, and stored; all the while maintaining efficiency and saving the company from inaccurate data handling, and potentially saving lots of time and money by keeping the data compatible with the company’s goal.

Serving as an emissary between both internal and external technical and business groups, the Data Governance Manager should be smart enough to bring positive results stemming from their governance of the methods used by data stewards and scientists handling data. The role of a Data Governance Manager resembles that of a data steward in many ways, but the top hierarchy must watch and keep an eye on the compilation and use of the data found by all the stewards. While improving the quality of data is always a top priority for the governance Manager, often C-Level leaders will expect compliance with external data regulations including Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel I, Basel II, HIPAA, etc. 

As the collaboration between business information and IT grows, data increasingly becomes the business driver. Data Governance Manager is more like an editor of a major newspaper. The articles chosen by the editor must reflect the information that is most interesting to the subscriber, must aspire to meet the standards set by the franchise and be error free.