Data Governance is about managing data management, a phenomenon that affects all businesses that are involved with any kind of data. Meindert Boorsma, associate at Squadra, explains Data Governance as the answer to the question of how to organize data within a business. Thus, the organization of data rather than technical aspects of data systems. 

Many businesses still lack a clear organization of data. Some even deny practicing Data Governance at all, however, that is impossible. Any organization involved with data practices some kind of Data Governance. Whether they are consciously or unconsciously working on it is a different story. Moreover, the importance of Data Governance is still unclear for many organizations.

Arja Kapitein, associate at Squadra, believes that Data Governance is a precondition to get more business value out of Data. It helps businesses to take the next step in professionalization, moving to a data driven organization. It is vital that Data Governance is explicitly handled in any business, however, up until now many businesses fail to do so. Now, how do you get Data Governance more explicit and how can you make others aware of the importance of Data Governance? That is the challenge. 

Businesses strive towards professionalization with the goal to become data driven. Nonetheless, at board-level, there is still a lack of awareness about what Data Governance means for a business. With the help of Data Governance, more value can be derived from investments made in data processes. Namely, businesses can work more consciously on solving bottlenecks and reduce polluted data. Furthermore, more relevant data can be retrieved to support commercial processes and deliver added value and optimizations to customers and suppliers.

The first step in a Data Governance project is to see to what extent Data Governance is already organized within the business. The second step is to define where the company aspires to be and how to get business value out of data. Once these two things are clear, a path can be defined in order to reach the goals. This is the start of the Data Governance journey.  

Up until now, Data Governance is often too implicit and often indirectly included into more technical projects such as the implementation IT systems. IT systems like ERP, Product Information Management (PIM) or Master Data Management (MDM) Systems. Implementing Data Governance is per definition not a system implementation project but a complete different kind of project. For the implementation of an IT system, a small part of the project is preparation and a large part is configuration and implementation. Contrarily, Data Governance projects need more time for upfront discussion and a clear organization strategy. These projects require a lot of preparational work such as raising awareness, involving the right people and defining a proper way of managing the required change. As such, Data Governance projects include processes for change management. Data Governance answers questions on how to change an organization from where it is now towards an organization that consciously uses data to run the business. Regardless of what systems are used, and while the existing business is continuing.

Furthermore, when implementing a data system, it often focusses on only one Data domain. For example for products, a Product Information system only includes data relevant to publish, like the data for the website. Data Governance is concerned with ALL data domains within a business, and in case of products additionally may include data for materials and prices. 

As mentioned before, an important factor of Data Governance is involving the right people. Employees at the highest level of the business need to understand why data is important data. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to run a business without having a solid data foundation in place. Data is not just an IT topic, it requires strategic decisions.

Data Governance is about people and changing the way they operate. Arja and Meindert noticed that in many businesses, employees working in the data field are undervalued, and pushed away in dark corners of the company. The valuable activities of these employees become transparent and are recognized due to the implementation of Data Governance. The problems that are solved with the help of data become visible, and the data employees are being appreciated for the golden work that they do. That is the most beautiful thing about Data Governance projects, empowering people and let them do things that make them feel good about themselves and add key value for the success of their company.