Ask the Data Governance Coach

Welcome to my new column. I am thrilled to be a regular columnist for I have been an avid reader of the newsletter for many years now and I’ve found the contents invaluable as I learnt the trade. If you are a reader of my blog you will know that I am passionate about Data Governance and the benefits it can bring. I’m also equally keen to help kindle that enthusiasm in others, so writing an Ask the Data Governance Coach column is a perfect additional channel to help spread the word about data governance.

If there is a particular question that you would like me to answer in future editions of this column please contact me on either email – or via twitter @TheDataGovCoach

I decided that I would start the column with one of the most obvious and most frequent questions I get asked (and not just by my family and friends) which is:

What is Data Governance?

You may wonder why I feel the need to start with what must seem an obvious answer, but strangely for a data management discipline that, amongst other activities, actively promotes defining data, there are many conflicting definitions of what the discipline itself is. And the correct answers are not always easily accessible or useful.  Take this definition that I frequently share when delivering training courses or presentations:

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.

Perfectly correct but would you feel comfortable using it to convince senior stakeholders to support your data governance initiative?  While researching the definitions available online I also found this more succinct version:

Data Governance is the cross-functional discipline of managing, improving, monitoring, maintaining, and protecting data.

Again correct, but what does it really mean to the people you are trying to sell data governance to?  So in day-to-day practice I tend to use:

Proactively managing your data to support your business.

And once I start achieving stakeholder engagement using that simple definition, I add to that:

Data Governance is simply a framework by which you can proactively manage your data in order to meet your business needs. At a minimum it will include:

  • A policy to mandate how your organisation is going to manage its data
  • Definitions of roles and responsibilities concerning data
  • Processes i.e. what to do to manage the data and indeed how to manage it.

I hope this has clarified the definition of data governance for you, and I look forward to answering your data governance questions in future versions of this column.


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Nicola Askham

Nicola Askham

Nicola Askham, The Data Governance Coach, is an independent data management consultant.  Her experience in coaching both regulatory and non-regulatory organisations to design and implement full data governance frameworks, is unique within the Data Governance field. The coaching approach enables organisations to self manage the process beyond initial implementation. Nicola’s coaching and Data Governance workshops, including Solvency II, ensures your data governance framework is embedded as an integral part of your business as usual policy. Nicola can be reached at her web-site:

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