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17 October 2023

principles of data governance

Defining the 7 core principles of data governance

In an age where data is regarded as a valuable asset, understanding and implementing effective data governance is paramount. In essence, data governance refers to the practices and processes organizations use to manage, utilize, and protect their data. One of the key elements to effective data governance lies in its core principles.

These principles serve as the guiding lights that shape data governance strategies and implementations. In this article, we’ll delve into the seven core principles of data governance that every organization should understand and embrace.

1. Data accuracy

Data accuracy is the cornerstone of any effective data governance framework. Ensuring that data is accurate, valid, and reliable is fundamental for organizations that depend on data to make informed decisions, drive operational efficiency, and provide excellent customer service. This principle necessitates that data governance programs incorporate strategies and mechanisms that verify and maintain the accuracy of data throughout its lifecycle, from initial collection and entry through to storage and eventual use.

Inaccurate data can lead to misinformed decisions, operational inefficiencies, and even regulatory non-compliance. Therefore, mechanisms like data validation, data cleaning, and regular data audits are often employed to ensure data accuracy. Additionally, fostering a culture that values data accuracy is also key. This involves training and educating employees about the importance of data accuracy and the role they play in ensuring it.

2. Data accessibility

Data accessibility is one of the most important data governance principles. It refers to the provision of timely, reliable, and secure access to data for authorized users. A well-designed data governance framework ensures that the right people have access to the data they need when they need it. This is essential for operational efficiency, informed decision-making, and innovation.

However, data accessibility must be balanced with considerations for data privacy and security. Data governance should define and manage roles, responsibilities, and access controls to prevent unauthorized access or misuse of data. It should also ensure that data is stored and transmitted securely to protect it from breaches or attacks. Furthermore, as organizations increasingly adopt cloud-based data storage and management solutions, ensuring data accessibility across multiple platforms and devices becomes more important.

3. Data consistency

The principle of data consistency is a core aspect of data governance. This principle ensures that data definitions, formats, and values are consistent across different systems, databases, and processes within an organization. Inconsistent data can lead to confusion, errors, and inefficiencies, and can undermine trust in data.

To achieve data consistency, organizations need to establish and enforce standards for data entry and formatting. This often involves the use of common data models and metadata, which provide a common language and structure for data. Data integration and data quality tools can also be used to identify and resolve data inconsistencies.

Moreover, procedures need to be in place to handle discrepancies when they do occur, ensuring they are resolved correctly and swiftly. This principle extends to all data, whether structured or unstructured and across all platforms and systems used by the organization.

4. Data compliance

In the context of data governance, compliance is paramount. This principle requires organizations to comply with all relevant data laws, regulations, and industry standards. In an era where data privacy and security are high-profile issues, regulatory bodies have introduced stringent rules and penalties for non-compliance, making data compliance more critical than ever.

An effective data governance program should include comprehensive policies and procedures that ensure ongoing compliance. These should cover areas like data collection, processing, storage, transmission, and disposal, as well as data access and data privacy. Moreover, these compliance strategies need to be adaptive and responsive to the evolving regulatory landscape.

Regular audits, risk assessments, and compliance checks should be performed to ensure adherence to all relevant laws and regulations. Additionally, employees should be trained regularly on data compliance matters to help embed compliance into the organization’s culture.

5. Data integrity

Data integrity is the assurance of the accuracy and consistency of data over its entire lifecycle. This principle of data governance ensures that data remains unaltered and reliable from the time it is created until the moment it’s destroyed. Data integrity is crucial for businesses as it supports decision-making, compliance, and customer trust.

Achieving data integrity involves various measures, such as data validation, backups, and security controls. Data validation techniques can ensure that data is accurate and appropriate for its intended use. Backups can protect against data loss, while security controls can prevent unauthorized alterations. Also, version control mechanisms can track changes and recover original data if needed.

6. Data stewardship

Data stewardship is one of the most important data governance principles. It concerns the responsibility for the management and oversight of an organization’s data assets. It’s the data steward’s role to ensure that stored data is high-quality, accessible, consistent, and protected.

Data stewardship often involves defining and assigning roles and responsibilities for various data management tasks. These may include maintaining data quality, ensuring data privacy, protecting data, and ensuring compliance with data-related laws and regulations. In some organizations, there may be designated data stewards who have these responsibilities. In others, these responsibilities may be shared among various roles.

Effective data stewardship can lead to improved data quality, increased efficiency, better compliance, and greater trust in data. It can also support better decision-making, as decisions based on high-quality, reliable data are more likely to lead to successful outcomes.

7. Data transparency

Data transparency, the final principle of data governance, refers to the visibility of the processes and methods used to collect, store, manage, and use data within an organization. In essence, it involves being open about how data is handled, thereby fostering trust among stakeholders.

Transparency can aid in building trust with stakeholders, including employees, customers, and regulatory bodies, and ensures that everyone understands how data is being used and protected within the organization. Transparency is one of the main principles of data governance and it is also key to compliance with many data protection laws, which require organizations to inform individuals about how their data is collected, processed, and stored.

Implementing data transparency may involve developing clear policies and procedures for data management, regularly communicating about data practices, and providing access to information about data processes where appropriate. As organizations increasingly use data to drive decisions and strategies, being transparent about how this data is managed can demonstrate accountability and ethical practice, further enhancing trust and reputation.


Still have questions about data governance? Turn to DataGalaxy to create your company’s data lineage mapping, develop a standardized business glossary, and much more! Check our calendar and select a date that works for you. Jumpstart your free 15-day platform trial access & start making the most of your data today!

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