Data Governance Definitions: The Catalogue of Terms

What definition should you use to describe your data governance initiative?

The vast majority of your organisation will be unfamiliar with the term data governance so it helps to create a definition that they can understand.

Without a clear definition, you will struggle to communicate the benefit and value that your initiatives bring.

Data Governance: List of Definitions

Data Governance Institute Definition:

Short version:

“Data Governance is the exercise of decision-making and authority for data-related matters.“

Long version:

“Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.”

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Search Data Management Definition:

“Data governance (DG) refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures, and a plan to execute those procedures.”

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Wikipedia Definition:

“Data governance is a control that ensures that the data entry by an operations team member or by an automated process meets precise standards, such as a business rule, a data definition and data integrity constraints in the data model. The data governor uses data quality monitoring against production data to communicate errors in data back to operational team members, or to the technical support team, for corrective action. Data governance is used by organizations to exercise control over processes and methods used by their data stewards and data custodians in order to improve data quality.”

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Robert Seiner Definitions from “Non-Invasive Data Governance” publication:

  • Variant 1: “Data governance is the formal execution and enforcement of authority over the management of data and data related assets.”
  • Variant 2: “Formalizing behavior around the definition, production, and usage of data to manage risk and improve quality and usability of selected data.”
  • Variant 3: “Formalizing and guiding behavior over the definition, production, and use of information and information-related assets.”

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Attributed to: John Ladley, Danette McGilvray, Anne-Marie Smith and Gwen Thomas:

"Data Governance is the organization and implementation of policies, procedures, structure, roles, and responsibilities that outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights, and accountabilities for the effective management of information assets."

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Definition from Oracle:

“Data governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archival and deletion of data and information. It includes the processes, roles, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of data and information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.”

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MDM Institute Definition:

“The formal orchestration of people, processes, and technology to enable an organization to leverage data as an enterprise asset.”

IBM Data Governance Council Definition:

“...the political process of changing organizational behavior to enhance and protect data as a strategic enterprise asset.”

Forrester Definition:

“...the process by which an organization formalizes the fiduciary duty for the management of data assets critical to its success.”

Richard Biehl Definition:

“Data governance is a cross-organizational function that sets policy and guidance for data definition, ownership, and stewardship of the strategic data asset of the enterprise.”

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DAMA-DMBOK definition:

"...the exercise of authority and control (planning, monitoring, and enforcement) over the management of data assets."

Thanks to Steve Corcoran (see comments below).

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