What does Data Governance mean and what does it do?

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Data Governance, Master Data Management and Data Strategy are all three current topics both extremely relevant and “hot”. Until recently managing data quality was often neglected or indeed overlooked in many organizations. Today, organizations see data as a valuable possession , a real ‘asset’. But what do the subjects Data Governance, Master Data Management and Data Strategy actually mean? In this blog we will discuss the first subject, Data Governance. We explain what is meant by this and what the benefits of a good Data Governance program are to an organization.

Data Governance

So many people, so many opinions. An unequivocal definition for Data Governance is therefore not readily available. Below a number of definitions of Data Governance used by several internationally renowned organizations active in the areas of Data Governance and Master Data Management:
• “Data Governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure effective and efficient use of information to enable an organization to achieve its goals. “(Gartner)

• “Data Governance is a collection of practices and processes which help to ensure the formal management of data assets within an organization.” (DATAVERSITY)

• “Data Governance is the formal orchestration of people, process, and technology to enable an organization to leverage data as an enterprise asset.” (The MDM Institute)
•“Data Governance is the exercise of authority and control (planning, monitoring, and enforcement) over the management of data assets.” (DAMA International)

• “Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.” (Data Governance Institute)
Let it be clear that Data Governance is not only about data. It requires a combination of people, rules, procedures and supporting technologies in order for it to be successful.

A good Data Governance program contains a decision making body, a defined set of procedures and a plan how to execute these.

Data Governance programs can differ considerably, depending on their focus (on compliance, on data integration, on Master Data Management, etc.). Regardless of the ‘flavour’, each program will essentially have the same three objectives:
1. to make, collect and standardize rules
2. to solve problems
3. to monitor and enforce compliance and at the same time provide support to the stakeholders of the data

The benefits of a Data Governance program

– An effective Data Governance program offers many benefits to an organization, amongst which:
– Costs for other Data Management related topics are reduced
– Accurate procedures are drawn up for activities to comply with both legislation and regulations
– Transparency of all data related activities is increased
– Management and employees are trained to approach data issues in the same way
– The value of data to an organization is increased
– Standardized data systems, data policies, data procedures and data standards
– Uniform guidelines for resolving existing and current data issues
– Simplification and improvement of monitoring and tracing activities to promote data quality
– Increased company sales

In summary, an effective Data Governance program reduces costs and increases the quality of the data, which makes better decision making, thereby increasing the profitability of organizations.


Curious about what a successful implementation of a Data Governance strategy can do for your organization? Or have already started but you need a sounding board? Please contact our Data Management Team.  We will be happy to assist.


Jacco Oudeman, Data Quality & Data Governance Specialist

Consulted sources:
– DAMA International (2018)
– DATAVERSITY (2018)
– Gartner (2018)
– The Data Governance Institute (2018)
– The MDM Institute (2018)