Category Archives: Data Governance

What do you mean Governance ?

Process Governance, Information Governance, Asset Governance, Data Governance, IT Governance – if you are working within a medium-to-large enterprise, there is a good chance you’ve heard of the term ‘governance’. Read on to learn more about the types that exist, and some conceptual details about each.

Common Governance Types (or “domains” that benefit from Governance)

Governance approaches and controls can be applied to almost any entity or subject that the organization has a practical reason to put control mechanisms or processes in place – whether it is for Regulatory Compliance or other operational benefits.

Corporate Governance

Starting at the highest level for a private organization (for public organization, it would be the the national Government, for example) is Corporate Governance – which can be defined as:

The operating model with rules and practices by which a board of directors ensures accountability, fairness, and transparency in a company’s relationship with all its stakeholders (financiers, customers, management, employees, government, and the community).

(many definitions exist – for reference)

Corporate governance is often a comprehensive look at both structures and relationships that determine the direction of the corporate entity. In this perspective, the shareholders and the management are the primary participants, other than the board of directors – which is typically a central role, at this governance level. Employees of the company also get a seat in many corporate governance settings, as well as representative parties of customers, suppliers, and creditors – working within the constraints of various legal/regulatory and ethical/institutional rules and regulations that may supersede whatever the manner of governance the corporation adopts.

Corporate Governance Framework – Wikimedia Commons

Information Governance

Providing a bit more ‘conservative’ perspective on the practice of putting in measures to mitigate the risk of incorrect or outright wrong information – is the level of information governance. There are multiple functions that need to be managed in how technologies are utilized, and typically as a partnership with Information Security organizations, programs are put in place to indicate:

  • What information is retained
  • Where it is stored
  • How long it is retained
  • Who has access (and what sort of access) to it
  • How that data is protected
  • How policies, standards, and regulations provide assurance

The challenge many organizations face is connecting these programs under one umbrella and correctly assigning ownership – sometimes to legal, sometimes to IT, and sometimes to compliance. Each organization is different, but in general, the following diagram describes the strategic vantage point the governance program can take:

Information Governance (simplified – click for more)

Operating information governance models may differ in structure or ordinal – but stakeholder perspectives hold true almost all the time. Partially due to the recent decades’ explosion of data volumes and the subsequent regulations and compliance-issues increases, traditional ‘records management’ capabilities failed to keep pace – requiring a more descriptive maturity model. This is due to the need for organizations to deal with many different standards and laws that apply to information handling, such as:

  • The Computer Misuse Act of 1990
  • The Data Protection Act of 1998
  • The Freedom of Information Act of 2000
  • The Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations of 2003
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
  • and more…

As information resources are effectively supporting the business goals, the organization can accomplish its strategic goals more efficiently – because information governance should not be just sponsored by executive leadership, but be led at the enterprise level. However, there are other moving blocks, as well.

Data Governance

The difference between information and data may not be as clear-cut as software and hardware assets. After all, information governance outlines responsibility and decision-making accountability – while data governance is focused on the management of unprocessed information (data) at the business-unit level, typically:

  • Availability (scope/delivery)
  • Usability (structure/semantic)
  • Integrity (referential/consistency)
  • Security (access/retention)

With the need for business intelligence, data governance has become a priority in many organizations to be able to produce reports to meet the regulatory needs. Irrespective of compliance needs (similar to Information Governance compliance needs) at the data level, organizations of medium-to-large sizes inevitably recognize that cross-functioinal tasks can no longer be implemented efficiently.

Notably, technical capabilities are more concentrated with fewer professionals in the industry – as technology advances have allowed for various levels of Information Technology (IT) to converge. Similar to software solutions engineering practice, governance at the data level now requires tactical deployment to be delivered to provide quick ‘wins’ and avert organizational fatigue from a larger, more monolithic exercise.