3 Ways Strong Data Governance Practices Can Improve Your Business

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Read more about author Jackson Shaw.

Businesses have long struggled to find the balance between compliance and agility. This is especially true when it comes to Data Governance. According to TechTarget, Data Governance is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data in enterprise systems, based on internal data standards and policies. Effective Data Governance ensures that data is consistent and trustworthy and doesn’t get misused. But even with data regulations like GDPR and CCPA in place to strengthen data protection, gaining visibility into access and permissions across an entire organization is easier said than done. 

While most business leaders would agree that Data Governance is a critical part of modern business operations, it can also be a challenge. Many think of costly tech implementations, complicated new processes, and ultimately, another box to check off. I would challenge them to reframe this notion. What if better Data Governance could actually improve operations and increase worker productivity, all while making your organization safer against attacks or, more commonly, audits?  

Here are three ways strong Data Governance practices can improve your business today. 

1. Process Automation 

Digital troves of data have enabled leaders to make more intelligent business decisions and deliver better customer experiences that would otherwise be impossible. Unfortunately, systems are rarely integrated to facilitate the proper use of this data, so putting it to work is a challenge. Companies are still using spreadsheets to input data manually, which not only presents problems for access but is ripe for human error. As a result, mistakes are made, productivity suffers, and auditing becomes increasingly difficult.

The bottom line is that poorly integrated systems hurt business operations, while also posing a real threat to security. With manual processes, it’s hard to manage access and even harder to pinpoint where potentially private data is being shared. Automating Data Governance is the best way to mitigate this. By providing visibility into different levels of access and privilege for all employees and departments within a company, enterprises can ensure the appropriate permissions are being allocated. This offers an added layer of accountability that simply can’t be managed by humans alone.

2. Eliminating Organizational Silos 

Managing the number of applications modern businesses use is extremely difficult, especially when you consider the ones that aren’t sanctioned by IT. Without a clear view of how data is being used across an organization, IT teams lose the insight needed to effectively manage access and privilege. To make matters more complicated, organizations are full of silos, from different departments and management levels to working with outside vendors and partners. Add remote and hybrid working environments to the mix and the problem becomes magnified. 

All of these individuals and groups require different provisioning processes, which can wreak havoc on productivity. On the one hand, taking the time to get it right can impede workers’ ability to get their jobs done. Alternatively, bypassing appropriate measures can lead to unnecessary access to data without the necessary scrutiny. Business leaders should look for Data Governance solutions that can be easily applied to their existing tech stack. This approach can help reduce friction and lessen the burden on IT, and it presents a more cost-effective alternative to replacing legacy systems. 

3. Merging Culture and Compliance 

Data Governance should be embedded into everyday best practices and overall company culture. This should be made clear by executive leadership down to management, and end-users alike. In order to achieve this, organizations must begin to approach governance as a critical business initiative that affects everyone, rather than just an IT problem. When viewed separately from business productivity and security, enterprises lose sight of the real value a strong Data Governance strategy can bring –and the risk it can pose if not taken seriously.

That said, making a cultural change is arguably harder than any IT implementation. People are generally resistant to change, especially if it impacts their day-to-day job responsibilities. The only viable way to shift behaviors and attitudes towards governance is to make it so easy they won’t need to find a workaround. By automating processes, eliminating business silos, and finding solutions that complement existing IT systems, businesses can create a culture of compliance, where governance is just another part of everyday operations.

Data Governance is not an area of security that gets the attention it deserves, but it’s critical to a strong business. With an increasingly remote workforce, the pace at which employees grow within a company or change jobs, and new, sophisticated cyber threats, Data Governance is not something enterprises can afford to ignore. Instead, leaders should start to view Data Governance from a lens of what they stand to gain – automated processes, a more cohesive business, a more secure business – rather than what they stand to lose. 

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