Data Governance: the 4 Know/Hows

Data Governance, the 4 Know/Hows

I recently attended a meeting with a Financial Services organization on understanding the value of Data Governance.

The audience were senior stakeholders in the business and they were not interested in a technology discussion. Their objective was to understand the value they could achieve by adopting an enterprise-wide data governance approach. They also wanted to understand what they could be doing differently.

I tried to help them by sharing my view on the value of Data Governance through something I call the ‘4 Know/Hows of Data Governance’.

What are the Know/Hows of Data Governance?

The idea is simple. When an organization has good Data Governance they will ‘know’ what they are doing differently by understanding ‘how’ they operate differently. The outcome should be that an organization recognizes great data, when it is sees it.

I consider the 4 more significant Financial Services Know/Hows to be:

  1. Know business decisions will be right, more frequently
    1. How: Understanding that business decisions are based upon data that can be trusted. Organizations need a clear understanding on the trust levels of data as it gives them the confidence that the decisions they are making are based upon the best data available
  2. Know what the data means
    1. How: Understanding of what defines data across the business. Organizations need to understand what enterprise-wide data they have available regardless of where it is stored, how it is stored or how it is defined
  3. Know the quality of data
    1. How: Understanding of how reliable the data is. Organizations need help in understanding that the quality of enterprise-wide data can vary dramatically and that they need to be aware of how the measurement of data quality impacts their decision making process
  4. Know what happened to the data
    1. How: Understanding the life-cycle journey, from start to finish, for all significant data. Lots of things can happen to data along the journey from its source to destination. Organizations need to be confident that the journey is recorded so if the need arises, they can demonstrate everything that happened to their data to prove they are managing it appropriately

As you can imagine, as senior business leaders they were only focused on the 1st Know/How as they consider the rest to be the responsibility of IT. My argument is that the rest of the Know/Hows are just as important to them as the 1st one, as without them they are relying on others to establish what the ‘great’ in great data really means. After all, IT doesn’t own the data. Some examples of why this is important include:

  • The Business needs to define whether ‘Policy Start Date’ in Insurance refers to the date when the Policy was originally taken out or after the mandatory cooling off period
  • The Business needs to define whether 2 records of data in a Retail Bank, that appear to be about the same person, really refer to one individual or 2 different individuals with similar details
  • The Business needs to define what documentation is required to demonstrate compliance with a financial regulation

The common factor here is that these cannot be issues left with the IT department; only the Business can provide these insights as they are the owners of the business processes the data supports. So where do you start on a data governance journey? Understanding where you are is a good starting point.

So what now?

To help understand more about Data Governance and to gain insights into your maturity levels and opportunities, there is a useful website to help you.

Go to where you will find lots of useful information on data governance, how to assess your maturity level and help on how to find the hot-spots of opportunity.