This is the time to tackle data governance

Good data makes all the difference to an organisation these days. Based on this, better decisions can be made and an organisation can be better managed. Yet many entrepreneurs and managers miss out on these benefits. The ambitions around data are there, but they often stagnate due to lack of data governance and failure to assign clear tasks to employees. This is a shame because great opportunities and economic benefits are thus missed.

Improven's Linsey Vluggen and Wouter Bruel explain why now is a good time to work on getting data governance in order for an economic benefit and what steps are needed for implementation.

Missed opportunities

More and more companies and organisations are collecting data. This may include, for example, data on suppliers, customers, sales, products and services, but also data on production, logistics, employees or finances. The increasing availability of data offers entrepreneurs and managers great opportunities. The quality of reports, risk analyses and decisions can improve significantly. Ultimately, this helps improve the management of an organisation and, in many cases, provides concrete economic benefits.

Unfortunately, we see in practice that opportunities in this area are still often missed. As a result, companies and organisations benefit far less from the potential advantages than they could. In many cases, this is due to insufficient data quality. This leads to extra work, extra costs, incorrect analyses, wrong decisions, and so on, ultimately culminating in economic waste.

A major cause is the lack of attention to data governance. This is the proper organisation of the collection, management and use of data. Often, responsibilities and tasks are not properly agreed upon. As a result, it may happen, for instance, that an employee spots errors but does not know to whom to report them. As a result, problems remain unresolved.

Assigning tasks and roles

So how should it be done? It starts by properly defining tasks and roles, and assigning them to specific contributors. This puts responsibility for the elements within a given data domain in the hands of a chain of employees. It creates clarity, ownership, responsibility and commitment. Moreover, paying attention to assigning tasks and roles encourages awareness within an organisation that good data management is important and brings benefits to the organisation.

What are the roles? In the following roles you will see the five roles that are essential for good data governance. They are by no means full-time tasks. What matters most is that tasks and responsibilities are defined and invested in an employee. When the organisation has defined and assigned the roles, and has also clearly communicated this within the organisation, an important step has been taken.



Data owner

Ultimately responsible for data quality and member of the data steering group (part of the Business).

Data steward

A data steward is responsible for the day-to-day management and quality of specific datasets. This role is often assigned to someone in the IT department.

Application owner

It is responsible for application availability, security, compliance, maintenance, backup and support. This role is usually assigned to someone in the IT or IM department.

Process owner

It is responsible for defining one or more processes. A process owner specifies the user requirements for the system supporting the process in question.

Data integration specialist

A data integration specialist is responsible for bringing together data coming from various applications.

The five roles essential for good data governance.

Every organisation requires an approach tailored to its specific situation. Whatever that situation, the five roles listed in the diagram should always be assigned. In doing so, certain roles can be combined. Such a combination could look like the following.

1. data owner/process owner,

2. data steward and

3. application owner/data integration specialist.

Using this segregation of duties is sufficient for small to medium-sized organisations. Large organisations are more complex so it is advisable to assign roles by process.

When an organisation uses a large number of applications, in addition to an application owner/data integration specialist, it may be necessary to appoint a 'lead architect' to oversee the entire application landscape and make sure it functions properly.

Roadmap for implementing data governance

At Improven, we use a structured approach in the form of a roadmap for setting up good data governance. This approach includes the following steps.

1. Identify and analyse the data domains and data flows between applications. And in addition, identify and analyse the size and complexity of the data.

2. Appoint and invest roles. Make employees with a data-related role sponsor to also actively increase data awareness within the company.

3. Make sure these individuals understand their role so that they can perform and carry it out properly.

4. Record the roles and descriptions and make this record available to everyone in the organisation.

5. Put data governance on the board and MT agenda regularly.

These steps can help implement professional data governance. Take your time to do this, though. Making an organisation data mature is not done overnight. Your organisation will change over time. Therefore, we recommend periodically reviewing whether the implemented improvements still fit your organisation.

Data governance and COVID-19

Many organisations currently focus on day-to-day operational work. As a result, improvement initiatives are forgotten or postponed. We think this is a shame. This is precisely a good time to work on implementing improvements such as getting data governance in order. This will lead to economic benefits and make your organisation more resilient in the near future.

Want to know more about data governance and how IMPROVEN can support your organisation in this? Then contact Wouter Bruel (06-13821990) or Linsey Vluggen (06-22265375).