When you take a moment to think about it, managing your daily life requires an enormous amount of data. From bank details to train times, from your frequent flyer account number to your multitude of passwords for your apps on your ever growing collections of devices.
There is an expectation that the data we rely on in our daily life is accurate, well governed and secure.
In a business environment we talk about the governance of data and business information, but what do we really mean?
Data Governance refers to the overall management of the availability, integrity, usability, and security of the data employed in an enterprise. An initial step in the implementation of an enterprise data governance program involves defining the owners and custodians of the data assets.
The business entities that define this key corporate asset may vary in participation and influence, but they share common goals of corporate data policy definition, policy enforcement, and communication. A key factor in a successful data governance policy is that the firm as a whole has a unified desire to create a strong governance framework. If data governance is driven solely by IT, there is the potential for lack of wider business involvement and ultimately data governance failure. For “shared decision making,” data governance must work collaboratively across business units and at all levels of seniority.
An effective data governance program, designed to help manage data appropriately and securely throughout your enterprise, should address the business processes used to collect, analyse, and disseminate information. Such a program can help an organisation eliminate errors, create opportunities for automation, reduce duplicative efforts, and decrease reliance on manual data entry.
Without governance standards and quality controls, different departments are essentially speaking different languages and cannot share information fluently or coherently. An effective data governance program breaks down barriers to collaboration by initiating a conversation between representatives from different functional areas about how to best use and manage data.
Addressing issues such as accuracy, accessibility, integrity, timeliness, redundancy, consistency, privacy, and completeness require different business units to work together to achieve these fundamental pillars of a successful data governance policy.
There are some very tangible benefits to a strong data governance policy;
Examples in the legal environment where a lack of data quality, integrity and accessibility occur are common. The impact felt from the lack of a working data governance solution can be felt in many ways:
Data is the raw material to create information. Facts about your business are created, captured and stored as data. Therefore information should be seen as a high-value asset of any business. As with other high-value assets within a business they require a comprehensive management and governance strategy.
Law firms are not immune from the vast amounts of valuable data that is being captured and external data that can be consumed. Data as a corporate asset will only grow in size and importance in the coming months and years.
The failure to manage and govern this key asset across the business entities will deny decision makers the information they need to drive the business forward in a challenging market.
As other firms grasp the nettle and develop their data governance frameworks, the inability to gain competitive advantage from clean, accessible, consistent and useful data will be keenly felt.
Is it time for you to think about your data governance policy?