5 Steps for Effective Data Governance

Data governance is the way you collect, store, access, and share your data. Effective data governance allows you to take action from your data, provides easy access to those that need it, improves or maintains data quality, and ensures your data is protected. Ultimately, effective data governance should drastically improve business operations across the board.

Data governance implementation sounds like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By accurately assessing your situation and dividing the work into steps, effective data governance is achievable for organizations of any size.

Step 1: Assess your current situation

If your organization is operating and functioning, you already have some sort of data governance going on. If only one team has access to their department’s files in Google Drive or DropBox, that is a current form of data governance. Ask yourself: is your data available to those that need it? Is my data quality good? Do my technology systems integrate with one another?

Being aware of what your current data governance looks like and identifying the improvements that need to be made will make creating a plan and strategy much easier.

Step 2: Calculate the probability of risk

Where are the issues in your current data governance plan coming from? Are you struggling to share data across different departments? Are you worried about compliance and security? Do you have the right people, technology, and processes for your current governance? Determine which areas need the most improvement before jumping into your plan. Identify where there are gaps in the security or protection of your data.

Potential areas of risk:

  • Do you have BDRs or AEs traveling with company equipment?
  • Do we have decent security at the front desk?
  • Does the door on the data center lock?
  • Do we have the right probability of risk identified?

By identifying areas of potential risk, you can target improvement in those areas through your data governance strategy. This step is important and can save you thousands, if not millions of dollars in the long run.

Step 3: Get the right people in the right positions

Without people, data does nothing. It just sits there – people are the ones who give it direction.

The best place to start is with people who are knee-deep in their data. They know how it’s used, what they’re looking for, and what would happen if the quality diminished. The C-Suite is a less than ideal candidate for a data steward or governor because they don’t spend their days in the data. They are great at getting initiatives off the ground and get buy-in from, but someone else should be governing the data.

Step 4: Develop a data governance strategy

It’s time to create rules around your data. You have the right people in the right places and have assessed your current situation – now it’s time to decide what your strategy will be. Are you updating your technology to make for better integrations? What does your roadmap look like?

Data needs to have clear standards on how it should be stored, managed, and leveraged. This means putting a data steward or data team in charge, putting processes in place, and leveraging the right technology for your organization. Identify which areas of risk are the biggest and need to be tackled first – whether that be updating technology, changing file access, implementing a password control tool, etc.

Documenting your strategy and implementing deadlines is a good place to start. It’s also important to assess whether or not you have the capacity to carry this all out in-house. Some organizations may not have the expertise or time, and that’s okay. There are plenty of consulting firms like CSpring that help with governance strategy and execution for organizations of all sizes.

Step 5: Monitor the efficiency of your controls

Creating a strategy is one thing but carrying it out is another. In your strategy creation process, you should have ideally outlined some goals to reach through your new governance plan. How are you measuring success and compliance with your new strategy?

You can’t have the reassurance that you’re compliant if you don’t know the quality and probability of the risk of your data. You can be sure that you’re getting the most out of your data with effective data governance. Ensuring a successful implementation by taking the steps to align your goals with your processes will save you from a failed strategy. By aligning the people, processes, and technology at your organization, you can make better business decisions and protect yourself from risk.

Read about our data governance work here.

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