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Data governance should be a top priority for every organization due to the risks and benefits directly linked to it. Poor data governance can lead to performance issues, lawsuits and fines. Even more crucially, weak data governance leads to increased cybersecurity risks and breaches.

Data governance is an organizational framework that needs to include data rules, role delegation and specific policies for various data processes. With so many different visions of data governance, it is understandable that companies often make mistakes that could easily be avoided if they better understood what mistakes to avoid in the first place.

SEE: Hiring kit: Data Scientist (TechRepublic Premium)

To better understand what a successful data governance strategy looks like, take a closer look at five dangerous data governance mistakes your company should avoid.

Top 5 data governance mistakes

Siloing data governance efforts

In 2008, Gartner first presented its data governance maturity model. Since then other organizations like IBM have introduced similar maturity models. These maturity models are still relevant today because they cover the first mistake organizations make when deploying data governance programs: Siloed data governance strategies and programs.

The lower levels in these models are reserved for organizations that have no data governance program and are not aware of the risks and benefits of having one. The second level of maturity and awareness reveals a common mistake among organizations: Deploying the program only at IT levels. The final and top levels are for companies that have installed a holistic and effective data framework with strategies, policies and designated roles across the entire organization.

For an effective data governance strategy, data governance policies and procedures must permeate all departments, roles, and responsibilities in a business. IT cannot be the sole arbiter of governance success

Misaligning data governance and business plans

Companies that limit their data governance programs to technology, compliance and data management often fail to align data governance initiatives with other business goals, which dramatically restricts their chances of success. For top-level executives and decision-makers, it’s not always easy to visualize the connection between the company’s bottom line and how they manage data. Data governance should be a top-down initiative that includes all organizational levels.

Gartner’s Seven Foundations for Modern Data and Analytics Governance explains that aligning data and analytics governance with business outcomes is imperative. How businesses manage data should be directly linked to business strategies and priorities, Gartner says.

Data governance should not be solely about data but how to support business outcomes and align with business priorities. To avoid making an alignment mistake, ensure your organization puts existing business plans and needs at the center of its data governance program. Additionally, ensure top executives are involved in the program and that communication channels among all levels flow smoothly.

Thinking big without day-to-day tactics in place

Data governance programs may serve a variety of purposes: To break down silos, drive data efficiency, meet regulations, enhance security or even drive sales. When deploying data governance programs, organizations often set moonshot goals and have big ambitions. And while big ambitions are perfect for data-driven approaches, data governance is a day-to-day job that requires a lot of time and human resources to sustain itself.

Setting short, mid and long-term goals helps your team and workforce build confidence while benchmarking progress, adjusting and making revisions. Don’t forget to focus some energy on your fast wins and building momentum, giving everyone involved a clear roadmap of the entire journey ahead.

People, processes and technology — like in most tech sectors — are three of the most important elements of data governance. Make sure you hire the right workers and ensure they have the skills and tools they need to do the job. Setting up transparent processes and having the best resources will keep their level of enthusiasm high throughout day-to-day governance tasks and long-term strategy.

Missing out on the right technology

Data governance is not all policies and strategies. Without the right technology and tools, a program is unlikely to succeed. Today, vendors and cloud providers offer a wide range of cutting-edge technologies with modern integrations that are specifically tailored for data governance.

With services offered by top tech companies like IBM, ASG Technologies, Talend, OneTrust or Microsoft Azure, your organization can manage the entire data architecture —  collecting, organizing and analyzing data securely and efficiently.

These services have incorporated machine learning, AI and single-source-of-truth dashboards to enhance predictive analysis, meet compliance, detect risks and irregularities, and increase visibility. The right technology can improve performance through intelligent automation and faster data management. The challenge is finding the right vendor for your technology, as you will share many responsibilities, like data security, with them.

Neglecting trust-based security

Another mistake organizations make is not recognizing data governance’s strong interconnection with security. Cybersecurity, in its essence, is the protection of data, and active data governance makes a significant impact on a company’s security posture. Data governance helps businesses meet the regulatory standards of laws. Your company can stay on top of the rich data legal landscape, which includes laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation as well as U.S. federal and state laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, with good data governance programs.

SEE: GDPR resource kit: Tools to become compliant (TechRepublic Premium)

Additionally, data governance can provide an organization with better insight into risks, bugs, misconfigurations, weak processes, weak endpoints and data vulnerabilities. Data governance experience better prepares companies for cyberattacks, especially as these attack vectors evolve.

Your company’s data governance program should directly reflect the values of your organization and its people. Consumers, users, companies and governments recognize data as one of the most significant business assets in our modern global society. Because of this understanding of data’s value, data governance decisions, actions and compliance have the power to make or break your organization.

Getting the right tools in place is one of the most important steps to combating typical data governance mistakes. Consider these Top data governance tools if you’re looking to further invest in your company’s data strategy.

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Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more. Delivered Mondays and Thursdays