Data Governance: Driving Performance In The Workplace And Workforce

Data governance—the management of data quality, accessibility, usability and security—is a critical component of facility management operations.

By Lisa Stanley

Facilities management (FM) is evolving, requiring an ever-expanding skill set, including a diverse and expansive technology toolkit to manage data. The FM environment includes a much larger focus on data, and the information derived from it that drives business decisions at every level of the organization. The volume of data collected on various building systems that support the workplace and workforce is increasing on a massive scale. How can a facilities manager use this information effectively to improve outcomes?

data governance
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What Is Data Governance?

Data governance is a critical component of FM operations and performance. What is it? Data governance is the management of data quality, accessibility, usability and security of the data collected in a business. It starts with building a roadmap that goes beyond the financial resources needed and includes identifying the skill set to build and maintain an effective data governance program with a frank assessment on the current internal capabilities and the technologies that are available. The roadmap enables you to redefine or confirm organizational principles, may change decision-making processes, and increases opportunity for collaboration across the organization. It can be summarized in this question, “What do we need and what are we willing to invest to get there?”

Trends Driving Growth Of Data Governance

The demand for better data faster is expanding rapidly as a means to achieve better outcomes for the workplace, and the workforce that occupies it. As unemployment reaches record lows, the competition for skilled workers accelerates, and the workplace environment receives increased attention as a recruitment and retention tool and a facilitator for improved performance.

New regulatory compliance requirements for lease reporting mandates greater disclosure of lease obligations and can significantly affect the balance sheet. Dispersed internal and external accountability for data management, expanded business intelligence that’s increasingly dependent on effective data governance, the emergence of the new roles including Chief Data Officer and data scientist, and stronger proactive roles and responsibilities for end users are all driving the need for effective data governance.

The expansive array of emerging technologies including machine learning, artificial intelligence and Blockchain are moving at an accelerated pace – much faster than the introduction of the Internet was. These are just three of the hundreds of technologies Gartner and others are tracking that can be integrated into a data governance program. The need for speed can provide opportunity for competitive advantage, and real time reporting and notifications enable FMs to make adjustments much more quickly than static reports.

Six Core Competencies For Data Governance

A data governance program requires six core competencies:

  1. A focus on building an information-enabled business — identifying relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive business decisions and create performance metrics
  2. Linking information management and sourcing strategies — consistent information that’s used commonly by end users and their business partners
  3. Information architecture, data integration, and business intelligence — the importance of process flow for BI and a variety of analytics
  4. Information Standards Strategy — provides a strong framework for a data governance program
  5. Data Quality and Data Governance — to monitor assets, manage costs and store data
  6. Implementation and Change Leadership — it’s the people side of change that enables effective implementation

The 3Ms

The 3Ms are a key component of effective data governance — monitoring, measuring and managing data. This is an ongoing commitment, and helps drive the development of effective data integration and aggregation strategies as needs change. As more organizations expand outsourcing, the exchange of information (interoperability) becomes a major issue. If standardization of terms and definitions isn’t embedded in the system, how can better outcomes be achieved? Usage of industry accepted standards, agreed procedures between internal and external business partners, proper communication protocols that support distributed information, bi-directional interfaces that improve efficiency, and agreed KPIs, penalties and reporting formats are an integral part of building a data governance program.

Communicating The Benefits Of Data Governance

The following benefits that contribute to improved outcomes should be part of your early messaging:

  • Standards-based systems improve consistency of data gathered throughout the organization
  • Data governance ensures data alignment, integrity, and transparency
  • It improves business intelligence and analytics
  • It relies on technology-based systems that can provide information in real time for faster responses and better decisions

Transformational Change Starts With Leadership

While developing a data governance program requires evaluation of priorities and available resources, change management skills are critical to implementation. Communicating the benefits to team members and explaining the big three — “Why we are doing this, why should I care, and what’s in it for me?” — in a clear manner upfront and frequently thereafter is an often overlooked step in the process. The change leadership needed for developing and implementing data governance starts at the top of the organization with a sponsor in a senior position that is able to acquire the resources to implement this transformational change, and to deliver the message. Building a data governance program provides structure and consistency, and is a powerful tool for the people who manage the processes. It strengthens performance by linking the power of technology to collect and analyze information with human capital in a transformational partnership.

data governanceLisa S. Stanley is CEO of OSCRE International, a member-based organization focused on transforming the way digital information drives real estate. OSCRE works with key stakeholders to expand understanding and implementation of standards, effective data governance, digital competency and emerging technologies. Visit for more information.