Managing Business Performance: Why Proper Data Governance is Crucial

When we think of performance management, we rarely consider data or data governance. But this line of thinking needs to change. For many businesses, keeping an eye on their data can solve many of their performance issues. Investing in data governance, and closely monitoring the data governance function in your organization, is necessary for accurate and timely performance management which is relevant to all areas of the business.

How Performance Management and Data Governance Are Linked

There are many different ways to keep track of your business’s performance. In fact, your organization has a certain performance management approach in place— or at least utilizes KPIs to track dashboards and reports. Besides this, your business might use these results for future planning.

But this is just the beginning. Your current metrics may provide you with contradictory pieces of information, or half-truths. Because of this, many plans and strategies may fail. If your business doesn’t invest in data governance, fancy dashboards and metrics will not be of any use. Data doesn’t lie and will always point you in the right direction. That is why strong data governance always comes in handy.

What Is Data Governance? Why Is It So Useful?

Data governance is an established collection of rules, standards, and resulting routes of operations that efficiently protect data quality while boosting accessibility. Data governing requires a consistent definition of what certain data and metrics represent; identifying where this data comes from, how it is analyzed, and where it is used. It also involves automating business rules, minimizing manual processing. 

Documentation of data and their definitions in central repositories only enables self-service analytics, while ensuring quality because potential users will have the same interpretation. In addition, there are fewer errors, improved traceability, and more accurate reporting and decision-making.

Data governance also includes a forum where business and technical stakeholders can organize and make joint alterations as business contexts and analytics change. In terms of performance management, data governance delivers quality assurance, and thus, more accurate performance reporting and decision-making. Data governance, accessibility, and data quality are the major components of a company’s ability to impart a modern culture of data, where everyone can use data to make decisions.

Creating Reliable Data Governance in Businesses

Before you start a system of data governance, forget about this one misconception; data governance is not just the responsibility of database engineers, data analysts, or data architects

 When developing performance procedures, business leaders need to involve stakeholders and employees across the company to define tactical metrics. Moreover, business leaders need to include considerations about data governance by participating in efforts to standardize terms related to metrics. Likewise, the business logic needed to calculate each metric must be unified across the enterprise.

These things can be synchronized through governance forums. The forums are vital to strong data governance as they link cross-functional representatives across the business and IT/engineering. While the forum’s components may vary, its role is to enable alignment in relevant organizations or across the business on the lexicon, metrics, or statistics, as well as commenting on any changes and additions that may affect existing databases. 

For instance: how does a change in the way a performance metric is calculated influence other metrics that might be contingent on it? Does it change the business definition, and is this new definition already in use in another field of the company? Before any changes are made, it is important that the business carefully vets the metric reflects current business processes. If not, they risk quickly becoming irrelevant and unused, and inaccessible.

After the business has agreed on the metrics, definitions, and business logic, engineering and IT teams can begin to design data models that will enable regular reporting and faster insights that require less manual handling. It is through engineering that the metrics, definitions, and calculations defined earlier are implemented and collected. To protect how the metrics are understood, the common terms and definitions that the business aligned on can be stored and made accessible through a centralized portal, also known as a catalog or library. As business operations evolve with the speed of business, IT can leverage the portal together with governance forums to join forces effectively with the business in maintaining the timeliness and relevance of performance metrics.

Final Thoughts

Performance management has an end goal is to remain competitive, and businesses must influence data to drive the metrics that will best involve the employees, clients, and stakeholders. Early and consistent investment in understanding how business leaders use data and manage metrics to drive performance can yield improved results. Strong data governance is the key and this needs an adjustment to your business culture and operation processes, driven by leadership alignment, open dialogue and inter-departmental cooperation. Each function must regularly adapt new forms of collaboration, learn to speak the same language and invest and trust in a single source of information. In turn, data will give back and allow your business to perform well.

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