How to put together a strong data governance system

In the wide world of financial records management, there are many ways of going about creating an efficient data record-keeping system. And a fairly recent strategy that organizations have utilized in order to put them together is data governance.

There isn’t a precise definition of data governance, as it tends to mean different things depending on what the goals are for organizations. In general, though, data governance is a form of management that outlines certain rights and privileges that specific individuals can take with regards to pieces of information that are stored.

But in order for an efficient data governance system to be executed successfully, policies need to be established. Chris Grossman, who serves as senior vice president for a Framingham, Mass.-based technology solutions provider, offered some suggestions for how to formulate them.

Because data governance policies are something that several parties are involved in, it’s important that the guidelines be set up as a team, rather than one person deciding.

“Data governance decisions affect everyone, from C-level executives and corporate counsel to IT managers and end-users,” said Grossman. “Do not overlook the importance of involving all parties in the decision-making process.”

He added that each person should be tasked with a specific responsibility when it comes to the actual governing of data.

Establish a universal data governance standard
But before responsibilities are assigned, a formal policy should be established. If one has already been put in place, it may be worthwhile to go over it again to see if it could use some tweaking. This may be the case, as technology and compliance requirements are in an almost constant state of flux, Grossman noted.

Something else to be mindful of, according to the engineering management expert, is how long to keep information on file before it should be disposed of. Emails tend to pile up quickly, which can make data difficult to keep organized. A decision should also be made on whether to be selective about which emails should be stored or if there should be a standard policy of keeping all correspondence, no matter who sends it. Whatever is decided, they’ll need to comply with the regulations that are in place.

Grossman also recommended that organizations back up their data. The archiving of sensitive information is emblematic of a strong data governance policy.

Data governance is still something that many organizations haven’t implemented yet. Grossman noted that based on a 2013 online survey his company commissioned, nearly half of respondents – 44 percent – said that they didn’t have a defined data governance policy in place.

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