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Data Quality and Data Governance Frameworks - Nicola Askham

26 Jun 2020 11:15 AM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

Data Quality and Data Governance Frameworks

June 26, 2020

What are they and do I need both?

"How do a data quality and data governance framework relate to each other?”I get asked this question quite frequently and I think it’s a really interesting one, so I’d really like to help you get to the bottom of it. I think the reason it comes up is because people have been doing data quality and worrying about data quality for many more years than they have data governance.And so, they feel very strongly that there are two different frameworks in action. Another common misconception is that the two are the same. This may come from a lack of understanding of what data governance really is, so let’s break it down…..

Is data governance the same as data quality?

The very short answer is no. Data quality is the degree to which data is accurate, complete, timely, and consistent with your business’s requirements. Data governance, in very basic terms, is a framework to proactively manage your data in order to help your organisation achieve its goals and business objectives by improving the quality of your data. 

Data governance helps protect your business, but also helps streamline your business's efficiency. It ensures that trusted information is used for critical business processes, decision making, and accounting. And so, if you think about it, data governance vastly provides a fabulous foundation for many data management disciplines, its primary purpose is to manage and improve your data quality.

To put it in much simpler terms, if data was water then…

-          Data Quality would ensure the water was clean and prevent contamination

-          Data Governance would make sure the right people had the right tools to maintain the plumbing.

So, why would you want two frameworks relating to data quality?

The simple answer is you wouldn’t. This really isn't a question about how you align two frameworks. You should only have one framework and data quality and data governance should be working in harmony with one another – not against or in opposition.

Data governance and data quality rely very much on each other, I usually describe the relationship between them as symbiotic, as their relationship is based on mutual interdependence. Therefore, of course, you need both! You would not want to do one without the other if you want to successfully manage and improve the quality of your data in a sustainable manner.

Sadly, in my experience, some organisations do not yet fully understand that you do need to do both. Whilst you rarely (if ever) come across a company that is implementing a data governance framework without the intention to improve data quality, it is fairly common for organisations to commence data quality initiatives without implementing a data governance framework to support them. Unfortunately, this leaves many data quality initiatives as merely tactical solutions that only have short-term results.

And, it doesn’t matter whether you call it data quality or data governance (because let's face it, some people really react badly to the term data governance) as long as it gets your business users engaged and understanding what that framework is about.

So, let's just have one data quality framework which encompasses the roles and responsibilities around data, and then there is nothing to go wrong, no duplication, no gaps between two different frameworks. Make this simple and make it sustainable.

You can see the video I originally did on this topic here and if you've got any questions you’d like me to address in future videos or blogs, please just email them in to questions@nicolaaskham.com.

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