13 Best Practices For Developing A Robust Data Governance Strategy

From establishing team leaders to understanding your own data, there’s a lot to keep in mind when developing a well-thought-out data governance strategy. However, with the right team and know-how, a successful strategy will create effective and productive data collection and management processes and establish future-forward standards for a business.

As experienced tech leaders, the members of Forbes Technology Council understand the importance of creating strong data governance strategies in their own organizations. Here, they share 13 essential best practices for companies looking to develop such a strategy for themselves.

Communicate Clearly With Stakeholders

Like all major initiatives, there can never be too much communication when you need the buy-in and commitment of multiple stakeholders. By clearly communicating the importance, impact, expectations and goals, you get the right people committed to the vision and avoid surprises that can frequently derail data governance initiatives. – Neil Lampton, TIAG

Start With The Data You Already Have

Take stock of all existing data, classify it and prioritize it. Use this as the basis for building out your data governance strategy. Existing data will give you the clearest picture of what data is most crucial for your business and how it can be collected, stored and used. This will also show you what data you’re still missing. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

Embed Core Principles Of Compliant Data Governance

With GDPR fines increasingly taking the headlines, all organizations need to be looking at embedding the core principles of effective, compliant data governance. Do you have a lawful basis for collecting data? What data do you have? How will you be processing it, and who has access to it? A data governance strategy can only be effective if it’s built on these core legally compliant principles. – Thomas Kranz, RDX Works

Have A Solid Data Definition Framework And Strategy

Good data governance requires a solid data definition framework and data strategy. It’s very important to know the source of data, curation of data and usage of data. These components help you put together a governance strategy that can be further operationalized. – Apurva Kadakia, Hanu

Maximizing Your Data’s Usability Through Standardization

A solid data governance strategy includes thinking about how to maximize the usability of the data. This begins with solid standardization. Leaders from across an organization must regularly convene a governing body to agree on definitions, use cases, changes and access. Data is part of an organizational system, and therefore, it must be transparent, thoughtful and synchronized so it benefits all. – Glenn Landmesser, RiseNow

Maintain Strong Identity Governance

A good data governance strategy comes down to good identity governance. People and processes are a business’ biggest asset and weakest link. Make sure the right individuals have the appropriate levels of access to succeed in their roles and nothing more. Most importantly, make sure this level of scrutiny is continual and lasts throughout the lifecycle of their employment. – John Milburn, Clear Skye

Understanding The Difference Between Data Management And Data Governance

Data governance is not decision-based like data management; rather, it’s philosophy-based. In that sense, it’s closer to business intelligence methodologies. If one understands the difference, one can apply the proper methodology. For DG, it will be crucial to hone analytic skills for data management and to improve decision-making skills. – Jacob Mathison, Mathison Projects Inc.

Don’t Try To Do Everything At Once

Eat the elephant one bite at a time. It’s a good approach to consider the full enterprise scope up front and get an idea of the landscape. However, make sure you break down the overall effort into vertical chunks. That means partitioning the effort by the business domain of data, rather than by layers in the data governance stack. – Matt McLarty, MuleSoft

Map Out The Tools Needed To Meet Goals

Data governance is a marathon, not a sprint. You must map out the tools needed to meet your data privacy, quality, security and accessibility goals. Understanding the cost of solutions up front gives you the best vantage point when choosing partners/solutions. If partners/vendors can’t provide immediate value or scale pricing to your growth, do they really care about your success over their bottom line? – James Beecham, ALTR

Understand How Your Data Is Managed

Today’s comprehensive data governance strategy must include a comprehensive analysis of how data is managed. For example, today’s organization must be hyper-aware of how data is handled, how it’s transferred, who has access to the data and what cybersecurity initiatives are in place to keep the data protected. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

Clarify Who Has Authority To Access, Use And Transfer Data

One essential best practice for an organization developing a data governance strategy is to make it clear who has the authority to access, use and transfer data. For this type of strategy to be effective, there must be an individual or group that oversees its development and implementation. – Leon Gordon, Pomerol Partners

Hold Quarterly Training Sessions

In my experience, the best way to improve your data governance strategy is to train your team on the latest best practices and tips at least once per quarter. You could create security gaps if you create a plan and don’t update your staff as protocols change. It takes much more time to fix a breach than it takes to keep your team informed. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

Make Your Users’ Interests The Priority

Data governance strategies have traditionally been influenced by business decisions, resulting in various data breaches and, consequently, widening trust deficits. As fiduciaries of personal information, organizations must make the users’ interests a priority and enact a comprehensive policy with robust safeguards to prevent the exploitation of sensitive personal information. – Ranjan R Reddy, Bureau Inc.

Article previously published in Forbes.