Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is Data Governance?

There are many definitions used to tell us what data governance is. Some of them include:

"A system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods" - Data Governance Institute

"Data Governance: The execution and enforcement of authority over the management of data assets and the performance of data functions.
Data Stewardship: The formalization of accountability for the management of data resources." - Robert S. Seiner

"Data governance (DG) is usually manifested as an executive-level data governance board, committee, or other organizational structure that creates and enforces policies and procedures for the business use and technical management of data across the entire organization. In a nutshell, data governance is an organizational structure that oversees the broad use and usability of data as an enterprise asset." – TDWI

However, the definition I have come up with over the years is simple and does the trick for me. "Data Governance is the formal process by which an organization manages its data." – John A. Eisenhauer

As important as these definitions are, it is also critical to keep in mind what Data Governance is not. Data Governance is not:
  • Data Management (Master, Meta or otherwise)
  • Data Stewardship
  • Data Architecture
  • Data Modeling
  • IT Governance
  • Corporate Governance
Some of these are common problem areas that might well be the reason a data governance program was initiative in the first place. Of course, many of these are important elements of a working Data Governance program. However, they should not be confused for Data Governance.

In summary, Data Governance is defined many ways by many people. These definitions are neither good nor bad. It is important, though, that you define it for your organization and your particular needs at any given time. You will find that your requirements change over time. Consequently, your definition will need to be updated periodically. This is a good thing. It means that you are progressing and that you’re achieving your mission.

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