Top 6 Data Governance Principles

A well-design data governance program provides the right ownership and accountability model to get to the root cause and resolution of data issues.

John Owen

Data is everywhere around us and it has become the companies’ most important resource. It helps them get valuable insights about their clients’ behavior, measure their current performance and foresee what the future may hold for them. Thus, organizations invest heavily in various systems and tools that help them unleash the power hidden in their data. They try to build the perfect data warehouse to store their data and choose the best Business Intelligence tool to analyze it.

However, for companies to use their data effectively, they need to ensure both data quality and security, and the key to do that is data governance.

Data governance establishes the processes, rules and responsibilities that ensure the quality and security of the data used across all business units and allows businesses to exert control over the management of data assets.

Unlike data management, which is mostly viewed as an administrative process involving acquiring, validating, storing, protecting, and processing required data, data governance is a strategic process. It goes beyond IT and includes stakeholders from across the organization to ensure the safety, reliability, and accuracy of all data. Therefore, to help you build a successful data governance strategy, we are going to walk you through the top six principles of data governance you need to follow.


In order to ensure the success of your data governance, you must decide on the accountability for the different tasks. For instance, who will monitor the data quality and who will ensure that the entire organization can use the collected data.

Importantly, accountability must be applied across the organization as data governance is vital for the whole organization and not for just one department. A good practice to ensure cross-organizational participation is to establish a data governance council, consisting of representatives from all departments and (and in some cases top management).

Set Data Quality Standards

You must ensure that the data that you collect is trustworthy and reliable. Common characteristics of high-quality data are completeness, validity, accuracy, consistency, availability and timeliness. To maintain data integrity, you need to set specific quality standards concerning collecting, measuring and using the data. Furthermore, companies must make sure that all stakeholders understand how crucial data quality is for the success of the company and what are their roles for ensuring and abiding the data quality standards.

Enforce Data Rules and Regulations

Besides, setting data quality standards, you must enforce standardized rules and regulations regarding your data to confirm it is used in accordance with all relevant internal, external and governmental regulations. Rules are required for the effective management and valuation of information, ensuring its consistency. Besides, they further enable active monitoring and compliance against corporate or regulatory initiatives and specified business objectives. These rules and regulations will define guidelines for all aspects of data usage, such as access regulations, security, etc.

Data Stewardship

An essential factor for ensuring the success of your data governance is to choose dedicated data stewards. They are responsible for utilizing an organization’s data governance processes to ensure the fitness of data components when it comes both to the content and metadata. For many organizations, data stewards will also be accountable for the implementation of the data rules and regulations defined by the council. They will also ensure that others comply with them. Data stewards are responsible for protecting the data—while providing information on potential risks and offering regulatory guidance.


Keeping everything connected to your data governance transparent will minimize the risks of a data breach due to lack of knowledge regarding your data quality standards, rules or regulations. By keeping a permanent record of all relevant data governance decisions and procedures, it should be evident to any potential third party audit how sensitive data has been handled, what it has been used for and why it has been used in that way. Moreover, any new member of your teams will be easily introduced to your data governance policies.

Monitor and Control

To ensure the effectiveness of your data governance strategy, you need to monitor it and adjust it, if the need arises. Some of the factors that you need to monitor are the compliance and exceptions to defined policies and rules, the stewardship efforts and measure the added business value from data governance investments. By monitoring your data governance, you ensure that you are stirring it in the right direction and your efforts will pay off.

By following these fundamental principles, organizations can create an effective data governance strategy and operating model, gaining a path for organizations to establish control and maintain visibility into their data assets. Companies can generate significant value by promoting a data-driven culture across the whole organization, including improved decision making, better risk management, and achieving regulatory compliance.