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Governance Gears

Should IT or business drive the data governance programs in an organization? This opens a can of worms and possible debates in the academic and the industry. Practice in various types of organizations/industries be it in regard to  IT Governance or Data Governance differs exponentially. In most of the cases its absent, in some their is no differentiation as it is lumped as something the technology department does, in some organizations there are clear distinctions between corporate governance vs IT vs Data governance whilst in some each operate in isolation.

The COBIT framework incorporate financial reporting component from the COSO framework which implies that data quality is critical and important for preparing accurate financial reporting. The CEO's and CFO's are personally accountable for the credibility of these financial reports (thx Sarbanes-Oxely Act of 2002).  Therefore inherently it is the direct responsibility of the the Business functions to ensure the correctness, credibility, quality and validity of the data and IT is responsible for the infrastructure that holds, processes, data-mines and reports on that data. Here then lies our answers to the difference in IT Governance and Data Governance. IT Governance ensures that the IT infrastructure aligns with business objectives and utilizes cost effective measures to integrate technology with business functions. It thus becomes the pipe that connects flow of information for business heads to take decisions on. Whereas Data Governance is as Cohen(2006) defines "the process by which a company manages the quantity, consistency, usability, security and availability of data". I like the way Thomas G (2006) in her book 'Alpha Males and Data Disaster' defines data governance as the referring to the organizational bodies, rules, decisions rights, and accountabilities of people and information systems as the perform information-related processes. She appropriately puts it well saying "data governance sets the rules of engagement that management will follow as the organization uses data".

So it may be very confusing if Data Governance is sub-set of IT Governance? True and False, in some cases it is parallel in some cases it may fall under IT Governance function but primarily Data Governance is a management responsibility. The way I see it is Data Governance and IT Governance and overall Corporate Governance as smooth aligned gears rotating their processes & functions under a specified framework of exchanging information & reporting to fulfill the corporate governance objectives of the management. This in turns helps in adding value and better alignment/integration of technology, data and business functions.

Thoughts @ night on the reasons why the CIO is not just the bridge but a data streaming coaxial cable between business and technology.

Sam Kurien

Cohen, R 2006. BI Strategy: What's in a Name? Data Governance Roles, Responsibilities and Results Factors. DM Reviw, viewed 12 Jan 2007

Thomas G 2006. Alpha Males and Data Disaster. Published by Brass CAnnon Press, USA

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