What Is Data Governance and Why Should You Care?

Sriram Rella
3 min readNov 10, 2022


Data governance and data literacy are two important building blocks in the knowledge base of information professionals who are involved in supporting data-intensive research and who must both address data quality and data management.

Data governance is often seen as a broad and confusing topic, but many agree that it is vital to the safe and successful growth of a business. This and the following series of articles will break down data governance into its component pieces to help you better understand how effective data governance can transform a business and will outline how to take steps to apply it to any business.

Applying data governance to research data management processes and data literacy helps in delineating decision domains and defining accountability for decision-making. Adopting governance is advantageous because it is a service based on standardized, repeatable processes and is designed to enable the transparency of data-related processes and cost reduction. It is also useful because it refers to the rules, policies, standards, decision rights, accountabilities, and methods of enforcement. Hence, expertise in governance is fundamental for research in data services, especially since it exists at all levels of data services and is applicable to big data.

So What is Data Governance?

According to the Data Governance Institute (DGI), data governance is defined as “a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models that describe who can take what actions with what information and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.” In simpler terms, it is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data in enterprise systems based on internal data standards and policies that also control data usage. Effective data governance ensures that data is consistent, trustworthy, and does not get misused. Without effective governance, data inconsistencies in different systems across an organization are inevitable.

While data governance programs can differ significantly based on the focus of the organization enacting the policies, regardless of their primary mission, every program will have essentially the same core mission. The program must create rules and policies that align with the focus of the organization, resolve data conflicts, and monitor and enforce data compliance.

Components of Data Governance

The next series of articles will outline the core components of data governance, diving into each component individually. These components are as follows:

  • Data Architecture
  • Data Quality
  • Data Management
  • Data Security
  • Data Software Tools
  • Data Compliance

We will understand each of these concepts in detail and how they work together to create an effective data governance model.

Next: Components of Data Governance: Data Architecture