Building Your Data Governance Program

Jun 10, 2024


Modern organizations thrive on data. However, as the volume and significance of data has increased, managing, securing, and controlling it has become necessary. Effective data governance ensures appropriate use of information within your organization regarding quality, security, and compliance.

Understanding Data Governance

Before diving into the steps for launching a data governance program, let's define what data governance is.

"Data governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods."

The Data Governance Institute

Or, to put it simply, it's "the exercise of decision-making and authority for data-related matters."

A strong governance framework provides an organization-wide approach to managing, securing, and leveraging data for strategic and tactical decision-making.

It involves everyone who produces, uses, or manages data—every person who uses data has a role in keeping your data clean, safe, and private.

The Five Pillars of Data Governance

Use these pillars as a guide for laying out your design.


Establishing a data team helps organizations administer the different processes and aspects of the data governance system.

How the team is set up depends on the organization’s resources and data goals depends on the organization’s resources and data goals. 


Defining roles and responsibilities helps clarify who owns which elements of governance.


Tracking data is essential—not only the data itself but how it’s acquired, stored, handled, and disposed of, for future audits.


Data governance rules—often defined by the data team—help the system stay in line with both internal processes and any relevant compliance regulations.


Established quality standards for data help to inform business decisions.

Building Your Program

We recommend you start with a small, critical need as a learning project, then expand as your capability grows. Data governance often begins in HR because they handle sensitive employee data.

Step 1: Know your Purpose

Most guides about starting a program begin with engaging the executive team. Don't to go them without thorough preparation. If you want their support, you must have your plan ready.

Your program should start with understanding the "WHO / WHAT / WHEN / WHERE/ WHY / HOW." You'll need those answers before you meet with your executives. Start with "why."

Step 2: Secure Executive Sponsorship

Without support from the top, your data governance initiative may struggle to get resources and authority to be effective.

Why You Need Executive Support

Executive sponsorship provides three primary benefits:

  • Authority: Executives can establish the governance program as a priority, ensuring it receives attention across the organization.
  • Resources: They can allocate budget and personnel to the program.
  • Visibility: Executives can spearhead the program, raising its profile and importance within the organization.

Step 3: Define Your Goals and Objectives

  • Align with Business Strategy: Your data governance program should align with your overall business strategy. Identify how managing data more effectively can help achieve business goals, whether it's by improving customer experience, streamlining operational efficiency, or ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Set clear and achievable goals for your data governance program. This might include improving data quality, establishing a data stewardship process, or developing a compliance framework. Make sure these goals are measurable so you can track progress.

Step 4: Establish a Governance Framework

The governance framework is the backbone of your program. It outlines the policies, standards, and procedures that will govern data management in your organization.

  • Develop Policies and Standards: Create policies that define who is accountable for various data-related tasks and how those tasks should be performed. Standards should ensure data quality and consistency across the organization.
  • Implement Procedures: Develop procedures for how data will be managed on a day-to-do basis. This includes how data is collected, stored, accessed, and secured.

Step 5: Identify and Prioritize Data Assets

  • Conduct a Data Inventory: Carry out an inventory to identify what data your organization holds. This will help you understand the scope of the data governance program and identify which data assets are most critical to the business.
  • Prioritize Data Assets: Not all data is created equal. Some will be more important to your business goals and compliance than others. Prioritize these data assets so you can focus your governance efforts on where they will have the most impact.

Step 6: Establish Data Stewardship

A critical component of data governance, data stewards manage the data assets in their area of expertise.

Assign Data Stewards

  • Identify individuals who have the knowledge and authority to manage the data assets you've prioritized. These data stewards will play a key role in implementing your governance framework.
  • Define roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of data stewards. This should include how they will manage data quality, address data issues, and enforce governance policies.

Step 7: Implement Technology Solutions

Leveraging technology is a prerequisite for effective data governance. Invest in the right tools to automate processes, ensure data quality, and provide necessary security measures. (Automated processes are faster than humans, never need to rest, and don't make human mistakes.)

  • Choose the Right Tools: Select technology solutions that support your data governance objectives. This might include data quality management software, metadata management tools, or secure data storage solutions.
  • Integrate with Existing Systems: See that your chosen technology solutions can integrate with your existing data systems. This will help streamline data management processes and prevent silos of information.

Step 8: Train Your Team

Training is an essential step in launching a data governance program. Your team needs to understand the importance of data governance and how to carry out their responsibilities within the governance framework.

  • Develop your training program: Create a training program that covers the basics of data governance, as well as specific policies and procedures for your organization. Make sure the training applies directly to each team member's role.
  • Consider membership in the Data Governance Institute. Training is free for members.
  • Ongoing education and support: Data governance is an ongoing effort. Provide continual education and support to ensure that your team remains up to date with governance policies and procedures.

Step 9: Monitor and Report on Progress

  • Establish metrics for success: Define metrics that help you monitor the success of your data governance program. This might include the number of data issues resolved, improvements in data quality, or compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Creating a reporting structure: Develop a reporting structure that allows you to track metrics and report on the progress of your governance program. Regular reporting will help maintain accountability and show the value of data governance to the organization.

Step 10: Continuously Improve Your Program

Data governance isn't a set-it-and-forget-it initiative. It requires continuous improvement to respond to new challenges and opportunities.

  • Assess Program Performance: Regularly assess the performance of your data governance program. Look for areas where you can make improvements or adjustments.
  • Adapt to Change: Be prepared to adapt your governance program to changes in business strategy, technology, or regulatory requirements. This agility will help ensure the long-term success of your program.


Launching a data governance program is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and execution, it can provide immense value to your organization. By following these essential steps, you can ensure that your program lays a firm foundation for data quality, management, and compliance.

A solid data governance program will deliver a variety of significant benefits.

  • A single source of truth for every dataset: Consistent data increases opportunities for internal flexibility when all decision-makers have access to the same information.
  • Better data quality: Organizations make better informed decisions when their data is safe to use, complete, and consistent.
  • Easier data management: Organizations can address needs quickly and consistently with a data code of conduct and best practices.
  • Improved, less costly compliance: You can build your program with compliance considerations at every stage to help your team with correct data handling and disposal.
  • Lower costs and more value: Consistent data facilitates operational effectiveness, future audits, and efficiency.

Remember, data governance is a journey, not a destination, and requires ongoing commitment to maintain its effectiveness.


About Pixentia

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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