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Why data governance is important for small businesses

21 March 2024    |    By: Nathan Bentley

The day to day running of your business might sometimes feel like spinning plates. Looming deadlines, wages to pay, staff off sick and customer queries to answer. It’s a delicate balance between keeping things running and finding the time to enhance your business to encourage growth.

To some, data governance might be seen as a luxury, but the reality is that without the right data governance and procedures in place, your business’s sensitive data could be at risk. That includes your data, your shareholders’ data and even your customers’ data. That’s why no matter how busy things seem on the ground, you need to take time to ensure your data is being managed effectively.

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Don’t make the mistake of ‘leaving it to another day’. If you don’t have a data governance plan or data management structure in place, make this a priority to ensure that should the worst happen, your business is protected from data loss or perhaps even legal proceedings brought by those affected.

In simple terms, data governance is an approach to managing data across the entire data lifecycle. Data giants Google believe that data governance is a problem for everyone and is something that all business owners should consider:

“Every organisation needs data governance. As businesses throughout all industries proceed on their digital-transformation journeys, data has quickly become the most valuable asset they possess. Senior managers need accurate and timely data to make strategic business decisions. Marketing and sales professionals need trustworthy data to understand what customers want. Procurement and supply-chain-management personnel need accurate data to keep inventories stocked and to minimise manufacturing costs. Compliance officers need to prove that data is being handled according to both internal and external mandates. And so on.”

Whether your business employs just two people or as many as 200 people, having procedures in place that make your data secure, accurate and available means that you are doing what you can to protect that data as an asset to your company, and that everyone in the business can be confident in your processes during the entire data processing lifecycle.

By having procedures in place, everyone in your business who is responsible for capturing, storing, managing and analysing data knows exactly how they are expected to operate. It ensures that data is secured in a way that the business has agreed and that above all, the integrity of the data is prioritised at all times.

On a basic level, this ensures efficiency and empowers employees to work with data confidently. On a deeper level, it may inspire innovation and allow your business to really get the most out of even the simplest data sets. Data governance gives you the tools to do the most with your data, in the most secure way.

Lastly, data governance impacts your liabilities because if something unforeseen were to happen with that data and it’s found that your business wasn’t following the correct protocols, or even the relevant laws, then your finances and reputation could be on the line, even if you’ve got cyber insurance in place! Data governance means that your business is transparent in the way it abides by data protection laws like UK GDPR.

There is no one size fits all package for data governance in small businesses, that’s because every business is unique in the type of data it uses and the way it uses it. It’s good practice to appoint a data steward or data controller for each business area as that way you can rely on a leader to ensure the right procedures are being followed.

It’s also important to be able to adapt. Changes in laws and regulations means that your business needs to be able to respond accordingly. Likewise, if something does go wrong you need to have a response plan in place for damage limitation and data recovery purposes.

Remember, through data governance you need to make sure your data is secure, accurate and available to the people who need it. Your governance plans must consider the entire data lifecycle from data collection to storage, analysis and disposal and above all, it must ensure that your business is using data legally.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
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