A Basic Overview

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Data governance is a practice that controls and handles all the data in an organization. The basic aim of the entire concept is to maintain quality data and ensure that accurate and correct information is provided at the right places. Not abiding by this can have serious consequences for your business and a severe impact on profitability.

Indeed in many circumstances, you would already have people in your organization who are checking the quality of your data. As an example, your accountants ensure that invoices are sent to the right receipts on which the correct payments are received. Thus, most of your data is already a part of a management process, but you are mostly interested in the value and quantity. Those areas which are not inspected so often are the master or reference data, which you would be using in most of your processes. So with data governance, you are actually implementing a system that analyzes the quality of this reference data.

Data governance lets you follow a proactive approach instead of a reactive one. In most cases, you realize that your data is not of a good quality only when one of your processes fails or when your IT system suffers a lag. However, if you have data governance in place, there would be someone whose sole responsibility is to manage this data, which will reduce the chances of disasters.

If you want to implement data governance, you have to realize that this is more than just a tool or a method. Data governance is more of an organizational procedure in which processes are defined and responsibilities are assigned. True there are related tools, but they are only used for assistance. By no means do they completely define data governance.

Activities Performed

If you look at the scenario from a high level, there are just two main activities which a data governance organization performs. However, these two activities can be of an extremely complex nature and can only be achieved when a complete resource network is utilized.

Change Management

Once a set of standards has been defined and all data is in accordance with them, then all modifications to these standards must be controlled. As an example, if all dates are supposed to be stored in the day/month/year format, then it would not be quite a hassle to change all of the records to the month/day/year format. If there is a data governance team, it would analyze the effects of this modification and will conduct a cost and benefit analysis. If the results conclude that change is appropriate, the team would also monitor this change as it takes place in all business areas.


If there are any rules, there are always policing requirements, which are the duties of a data governance team. The team must evaluate how the organization complies to the required standards and it must also take measures to improve the compliance level.

In this section we will discuss:

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