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The role of Data Governance in maintaining the Integrity of Data

During my early days in the world of Information Technology I would grumble when specifications or designs I had laboriously produced were sent back to me with red-coloured comments splattered all over. Comments such as ‘does not conform to standard’ starred the pages. How time flies! I only realised the importance of what I thought was a ‘police-like’ action when I became actively involved in the planning and scoping of projects for clients.

It is an achievement to successfully develop a MDM solution, a Data Integration process or any solution that has gone through data cleansing and data validation and is to be used company-wide, it is a greater achievement to maintain its integrity.
As long as a process, involving movement of data, exist there must be a mechanism of allowing only data, applications and procedures that meet an agreed requirement to be used.

It wouldn’t be a wise idea to embark on a Data Integration or Master Data Management project without thinking about Data Governance.
Data Governance can be defined as “The formal orchestration of people, processes, and technology to enable an organization to leverage data as an enterprise asset.”
Data Governance, as a practice, involves putting into place policies and controls affecting data used company-wide.

These are rules governing the definition of data, ownership and accountability of data and its use within the company. The strategic map how data is to be managed.

Policies adopted should answer questions such as;

Do you have an appropriate data security policy?
Do you use the most effective technology?
What is, within the organizations context, data quality?

Control of information is an enterprise asset. This includes ability to access, create, modify, sell or remove data, also the right to assign access privilege to others.
Controls put in place should guard against unnecessary or unwanted access to data; data should be accessed on a need-to-know basis.

The approach taken by firms may vary but the goal remains the same, continuously guarantee the quality and integrity data used company-wide. Names given to this eagle-eyed team also vary, some are referred to as Integration Competency Center (ICC) others are called Center of Excellence (COE). It could well be called anything, with Center squeezed in :)
Applying a well–thought out plan can lead to benefits which include;

Unified reactionary to business: A standardised process can lead to quick actions or reactions across board.

Operational efficiency: Use of a common technology infrastructure in an integrated environment can lead to reducing the overall operational costs.

Privacy and regulatory compliance: within an integrated environment, Data Governance will play a big part in keeping an eye on the use of data.

In summary, data is an invaluable asset to an organisation. How it is used and its management is key to growth. Finally, to tap into this asset, a systematic unified method, Data Governance, has to be adopted.

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