The Importance of Data Governance and Compliance

Data governance and regulatory compliance go hand in hand. Organisations need robust governance practices if they are to stay on top of their legal requirements, while those obligations are designed to help them operate more effectively.

Although ‘data governance’ can also refer to the wider political associations of data governance, this blog focuses on the term in an information management context.

Specifically, we look at data governance as a way to support business objectives and to ensure that the information that an organisation processes is of high quality.

The key aspects of data governance include the availability, usability and consistency of information, as well as data integrity and security.

Organisations can create effective data governance practices by ensuring that information is:

  • Secure;
  • Accurate;
  • Documented;
  • Managed; and
  • Audited.

As you can see, there is a strong overlap between data governance and the regulatory requirements associated with data protection laws.

For example, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and its UK equivalent includes specific rules on data integrity and security.

Meanwhile, other laws such as the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations) and the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) contain requirements that are also found in data governance best practices.

Why is data governance important?

Data is arguably an organisation’s most valuable asset. You need information to win customers and to perform essential business practices. It’s also necessary for monitoring the work you’re doing, analysing your results and committing to continual improvement.

Effective data governance means cleaner, consistent and usable information. It gives you confidence that the data is accurate and that the conclusions you are based on solid evidence.

Moreover, it provides reassurance for regulatory compliance. Organisations that use compromised data face strict penalties under certain laws, such as the GDPR.

This is because the Regulation doesn’t define a data breach solely as an unauthorised attempt to access an organisation’s systems. It instead covers any instance where the confidentiality, integrity of availability has been compromised.

This can include, for example, information being rendered unavailable or data records that are inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent or unverified.

What to include in a data governance strategy

Data governance is a complex concept, and as such there are number of things in its framework. This includes policies, procedures and structures related to data management.

A data governance policy guides an organisation’s decisions about data assets, and sets the structure for conducting data-related activities.

At a high-level, the policy promotes a strong security culture where everyone in the organisation understands their obligations for maintaining data assets.

Meanwhile, procedures should establish specific standards for the way data is processed, accessed and used.

Before implementing a data governance strategy, organisations should create a team to oversee the problem. The team should consist of relevant stakeholders within the organisation who can take on the following roles:

  • Data manager: responsible for leading the implementation of the data governance strategy.
  • Data governance architect: responsible for the design of the data governance framework.
  • Compliance specialist: who ensures that the framework accounts for relevant regulatory standards.

This team should be supported by other relevant personnel, including the board of directors, finance executives, operations, marketing, sales, the chief information officer and IT management.

Looking for more data governance support?

If you want to know more about data governance and how you can implement a strategy, we are here to help.

You can find all the support you need in IT Governance: A Pocket Guide. Written by IT Governance Founder and Executive Chairman Alan Calder, this guide outlines the key drivers for IT governance in the modern global economy.

It looks specifically at corporate governance requirements and the need for companies to protect their information assets. 

You’ll learn how the role of IT governance supports the management of strategic and operational risk. You’ll also discover important considerations when setting up an IT governance framework.

The approach throughout is resolutely non‑geek, avoiding technical jargon and with the emphasis on business opportunities and needs.

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