Leveraging data governance properly on your digital journey

Nathan Olson is a manager on our Baker Tilly Digital team with experience in advanced data analytics solutions. He uses an innovative and strategic approach to data, working closely with clients to understand their specific needs to guide them to leverage their data and drive business forward.

What is data governance?

Data governance is as broad a topic as data itself. It encompasses all the controls, processes, technology and shared decision making over the management of an organization data. Data governance should not primarily be a function of your information management team, but instead it is a system of checks and balances to empower business stakeholders to get more value out of their data.

Why is data governance so important?

The data your organization owns is likely some of its most valuable assets and organizations need to be treating it as such. To do this, organizations need to monitor whether their data is providing real returns, and guard their data assets against security threats, ensuring the data itself does not become a liability and measuring the value of these assets as they appreciate over time. A robust data governance program can improve the quality of your data, mitigate security risks, increase accessibility to business users and better align the data with your organization's vision.

How do you determine if your organization has proper data governance?

If you manage data, which all organizations do, then you already have data governance – it just may not be formalized. Coordinating and standardizing separate data management efforts can reduce overhead and increase the level of analytics your platform is able to deliver.

It can be helpful to think of data governance in terms of two areas, communications and systems. When it comes to communications around your data assets, you should be asking your organization, some of the following questions:

  • How can we better communicate to the business what data assets are available, where they are and how to use them?
  • How can we promote data literacy within our organization?
  • How can we make sure the individuals responsible for developing and maintaining the data assets understand the needs of the business?

When it comes to the system side, we are talking more about the processes, policies and technology that can bolster the management of data assets. Some of these questions include:

  • How do we ensure the quality of data assets being leveraged by the business?
  • What measures are in place to maintain security, privacy and compliance within the data platform?
  • How do business users get access to the right information at the right time?

    If many of these questions do not have good answers, your organization could benefit greatly from data governance.

Like many organizational changes, a data governance program will likely not be successful without an executive buy in. The first step of putting a program into motion is to identify the leadership stakeholders who rely on these data assets, this could include your CFO, CIO, data analytics director, information technology director and leadership over operational functions such as finance, human resources, legal, security, risk management and others. These individuals can form your core data governance committee to help set the vision for your data governance program and periodically review your programs outcomes.

This committee also defines the guiding principles for the program, due to the breadth of data governance: a program without clear priorities will likely fail to gain momentum. Depending on your organization's unique position and maturity, they may choose to focus on data accessibility, quality, risk mitigation, advanced analytics, standardization or any number of other initiatives. The scope of an initial data governance program should be limited to specific departments, data assets or technology.

However, the guiding principles and goals should be extensible across the entire business and have widespread support so that it can be iteratively rolled out to the rest of the organization. A data governance program that does not span the entire organization will eventually be hamstrung on what it can accomplish.

How can your organization up keep your data governance and continually reevaluated as time goes on?

Data governance is not a program that is ever complete. It grows and evolves over time, requiring constant monitoring of the continued success of past initiatives, while looking forward to the next opportunity for growth. The data governance committee must establish a regular process to review the program, the status of its current progress and what's coming next. This should match up with the priorities of information management and the business as a whole, not seeing as a separate divided effort. A successful data governance program when aligned with the organization's goals can increase the efficiency of your operations and the insights game from analytics.

How can we help?

At Baker Tilly Digital we make it our mission to help our clients get more value from their data, combining business strategy, innovative approaches and technology. By first understanding our client’s goals and priorities, we can implement coordinated data governance programs to further mature their analytics platform. If you're interested in getting more out of your data assets contact us live to learn more about how we can help them.

Related sections

infrastructure tax proposals
Next up

Biden unveils infrastructure plan with corporate tax proposals