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The Value of Data Governance

Jeff Gorball
6/2/16 7:30 AM

I am often asked “what is the value of data governance?” and I am reminded of a statement I once read that said “the value of the data is directly proportional to the quality of its provenance, and the completeness and accuracy of its description”. Unfortunately, I did not make note of the source of this quote but I’d like to explore this concept today. (If this is your quote, please contact me so I can appropriately attribute it.)

The statement makes clear that the value of the data begins with the description of what the data is intended to be and the level of Data Governanceappropriate controls throughout its travels through our systems to ensure its completeness (as well as accuracy and fitness for purpose).  Simply stated, if we neglect to place governance and stewardship on our critical data from the time of its inception and throughout its lifecycle, then we have intentionally decided to allow the value of the data to be degraded. Remember, failure to make a decision is in itself a decision. Therein lay the answer to the question of “what is the value of data governance?”  The value (worth) of data governance is directly proportional to the value you should be able to receive from your data.

Note that in the last sentence I said governance was proportional to the value you should receive.  Quite simply, if you have poor data quality, the value is lower than it should be.  That is not the fault of the data however.  And actually, it is generally not the fault of the system that gave you the data. More often than not we can trace the data quality problems to a lack of, or failure of, some part of a data governance program.  When that happens, we run into raw chicken. (See Alex’ blog “Bad Data Quality is Like Raw Chicken”).  The key then, is that we should recognize the value of data governance for what it is, and apply the appropriate effort and resources so that we can realize the full value potential of our data. Will your data governance program allow you to realize the full value of your data?

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