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Fiona McGuinness29-Jul-2021 16:07:166 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Data Governance

Given the immense volume of data readily available to businesses, restraint and discipline are required to maintain a sensible and lawful approach to data capture and storage. And that’s where data governance comes in, providing an effective means of balancing risk with reward when it comes to gathering, storing, and utilising data.

What do we mean by data governance? All will be revealed as part of our in-depth guide, which touches on the definition, benefits, and key considerations of this powerful and essential part of business strategy.

What is Data Governance?

Data governance refers to the processes, policies, and standards a company uses to manage its data. It ensures that digital assets are secure and easy to manage, particularly within multi-site companies that deal with ‘big data’.

The role of data governance is to define how data is used, accessed, and stored across an organisation. Done well and it can improve accountability and responsibility, ensuring that all personnel understand how to interact with and approach data management.

It’s a common misconception that data governance refers only to security, but this isn’t the case. Instead, its policies provide guidance on how data should be used and handled across an organisation, with a view to maintaining security and compliance, as well as ease of access and usability.

Historically, formalised data governance policies were used only by large corporations, whose vast data stores necessitated a strategic approach to safe data management. Now, however, businesses of all sizes are encouraged to consider data governance, with digital transformation and stringent compliance legislation (e.g., GDPR) demanding a more comprehensive approach to data management and control.

Benefits of Data Governance

One thing to note on data governance is that it isn’t simply a means of protecting data and adhering to compliance regulations. On the contrary, a sound governance strategy can bring a wealth of benefits to your organisation – from improved data quality to consistent data accuracy across all business functions.

Here, we take a closer look at the different benefits that data governance can bring to your business.

Improved Data Management

Digital transformation means that businesses of all sizes accrue data at an astounding rate from multiple channels, often unwittingly. Though good for seizing opportunities, this level of automation can make effective data management challenging and put businesses at risk of breaching compliance regulation.

Data governance policies reassert the human element of data capture, putting best-practice processes in place to ensure safe and lawful data management. Not only that, but it ensures that the data you do gather is accurate, relevant, and usable, bringing added value to defined and secure data sets.

Quality Data and Ease of Access

Following on from our last point, data governance makes maintaining the quality, accuracy, and completeness of data a whole lot simpler. With formal data-gathering processes in place, it becomes much easier to silo, manage and segment incoming and existing data – ensuring greater accuracy and consistency when utilising digital assets.

In a similar vein, a formalised data governance strategy is ideal for teams and business functions that rely on real-time data insights to drive sales and leads. With consistent data use processes in place, governance ensures that the right people have the right data at the right time, making it simpler to act on emerging opportunities.

Simplified Compliance

Data governance empowers your teams to treat data with the respect it’s owed, which simplifies ongoing compliance. From a data compliance perspective, the stakes have never been higher, with the threat of sizeable fines for data breaches encouraging businesses to take a tough line on safe data management and control.

Meeting the regulatory demands of data security schemes such as GDPR can be challenging, particularly for smaller businesses that lack internal legal and technical resources. Devising a data governance strategy may not sound like a priority, but with such measures in place, maintaining data compliance becomes much simpler throughout day-to-day operations.


Data Governance and the Cloud – Things to Note

As a business, stepping up to using ERP software as a business management platform often means moving some or all your data storage and digital assets to the cloud. Cloud integration brings major benefits from an operational standpoint, but how might it impact your data governance strategy?

Over the past decade, the cloud has emerged as an essential technological partner for business, providing an affordable, convenient, and powerful means of scaling operations in line with business growth. But utilising the cloud does mean handing some degree of control and ownership to a third party, which can set alarm bells ringing from a data governance standpoint.

As touched on earlier, one of the biggest problems businesses face in managing data effectively is the sheer volume of data that can be procured by automated systems. And the cloud contributes to this simplicity, making it easier than ever for businesses to accrue and store masses of data – some of which they may have little use for.

For this reason, a formal data governance strategy can be extremely useful for businesses adopting cloud technology, maintaining a good degree of control over data capture and effective management. Your ICT or managed services provider should be well versed to guide you here. A strategic approach to data governance is essential from the moment you migrate assets to the cloud, providing the assurance that the data is secure and easy to access.

How Technology Can Aid Data Governance

While data governance centres on the human approach to data management, security, and storage – technology plays a role in supporting such a strategy during day-to-day operations.

Take, for example, a cloud-enabled ERP system. Such platforms offer a range of features and functions specifically designed to make it easier to control, understand, and benefit from your data sets.

Leveraging such tools and applications forms a central part of your data governance strategy, empowering teams to take control of data while ensuring it’s safe, secure, accurate, and complete.

Ensuring data governance protocols and policies form part of your ERP system offers a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Data benchmarking and segmentation – Use the in-depth filtering functionality in your ERP system to segment data by type, so you can store and manage the asset accordingly.
  • Improved data quality – ERP systems enable you to enforce data cleansing, enrichment, and validation rules in your business so you can be sure your data sets are relevant, complete and of the highest quality.
  • Enhanced data control – Numerous ERP systems will enable you to simplify data management, giving you the option to actively review and monitor data sets.
  • Better data accessibility – Data documenting tools allow you to catalogue sets according to relevance, date, and type, making it easier for internal teams to access and utilise new and legacy data sets.
  • Improved accountability – Accountability is important when handling sensitive data and assets, so using an application like an ERP system that makes data easier to track and trace is ideal for maintaining compliance and security.

We hope this technology-focused guide to data governance provides some clarity on how to effectively manage and control data within your organisation. At Intact, we provide future-ready business management software and ERP solutions designed to get your business operating at its best. For more information or to learn more about our software and services, visit the homepage or contact us today.


Fiona McGuinness

I've been part of the Intact family for 16 rewarding years. After completing my Business Studies degree, I knew Marketing was a field I wanted to pursue. Prior to joining Intact, I primarily worked in the financial sector, focusing on marketing for credit unions. When I started at Intact, I handled all the marketing tasks by myself. Over time, as our team expanded, so did my role. Now, I specialise in crafting compelling content across various platforms, from blogs to video scripts. No two days are the same, and I thrive on the dynamic nature of my role. Whether it's diving into customer case studies or lead campaigns, I'm driven by the positive impact our solutions bring to businesses. In an age where AI plays a significant role, I remain a firm believer in the power of authentic content. When I'm not working, you'll find me enjoying quality time with my family, sewing, or watercolor paintings.