Creating a data governance policy

Four steps to effectively manage, protect growing volume of electronic information
Monday, October 21, 2013
By Chris Grossman

One of the most valuable assets in an organization is data. Increasingly, electronic information represents a company’s collective intellectual property. Recognizing the need for complete data governance, records management personnel have begun to look at ways to effectively organize, store and retrieve data.

Prior to selecting a solution, though, many are preparing data governance policies that set out how to manage, use, improve, monitor and protect organizational information. A good data governance policy will improve a company’s ability to respond to legal inquiries, demonstrate regulatory compliance, reduce risk and increase data quality for better decision-making and increased employee effectiveness.

Here are four steps to help a company manage its data assets.

1. Develop a formal data governance policy or re-evaluate the current policy.
The first step to improving data governance is to develop a formal policy. If an organization does have a formal policy, re-evaluate it to make sure it addresses key business needs and that data is available when and where needed. No policy will ever be flawless but continuously working to improve it will increase the value an organization derives from its data.

2. Approach data governance as a team.
Data governance decisions impact everyone, from C-level executives and corporate counsel to IT managers and end users. Do not overlook these groups’ needs and the importance of involving them in the decision-making process. Once an organization has developed a data governance policy, communicate it to everyone and educate people on how they can benefit from, and contribute to, the policy.

3. Ensure governance policies comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
Since nearly all organizations must manage data to meet certain legal and regulatory requirements, it’s vital the data governance policy outlines how to fulfill those requirements. Different types of data have different requirements for retention periods. It’s important to define retention periods and implement a solution to meet them.

4. Consider implementing new technology solutions.
Evaluate the technological solutions that support governance policies. For example, is a data backup system adequate? How does a backup system help with compliance? In order to succeed with data governance, technological solutions must be efficient, reliable and capable of implementing the policies.

Chris Grossman is the senior vice-president of enterprise applications at Rand Worldwide. He can be reached at

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