What Is A Data Governance Framework? Definition And Benefits

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many public and private organisations use policies and procedures to manage the data accessible by their team members and customers. These policies and procedures create a framework that guides data governance. Learning about this framework may help you develop your knowledge of IT concepts. In this article, we explain what a data governance framework is, provide some steps you can take to implement one and list some benefits.

What Is A Data Governance Framework?

A data governance framework establishes which members of a company have access to and authority over specific data assets. It also defines how they can use these data assets. This provides the company with a system to manage its data assets and keep them secure. Companies often implement this type of framework to create guidelines for the roles, processes and responsibilities related to data management. Having a strong framework can protect your team from security breaches and cyberattacks. A successful framework relies on these principles:

  • Accountability and decision rights: Define which members of your team have access to certain types of data and make sure they understand what they are responsible for so you can hold them accountable for their actions.

  • Trust: Determine whether you can trust your data sources and your data management strategies. It is important to have the right software, storage system and protocols in place to ensure your data is secure.

  • Collaboration and culture: Provide training and educational resources to your team to ensure they understand how their actions impact the security of your team. Share your goals for data management and governance with them to promote a culture of collaboration and teamwork.

  • Transparency and ethics: Develop a transparent decision-making process to ensure your team understands why you are implementing certain protocols. This can help you build trust with your team.

  • Risk and security: Create a risk-management plan to make sure you keep your data secure. Train your team on organisational security threats and how they can help you prevent cyberattacks.

  • Remediation and compliance: Provide training on how to protect your team against compliance violations. Remediate any security breaches or cyberattacks that occur to help ensure your team follows the law.

  • Value and outcomes: Determine how you are going to measure the success of your framework. Set measurable goals and develop tools to help you achieve them.

  • Organisational best practices: Create a security policy that includes best practices for access rights and procedures for dealing with cyberattacks and security breaches. Consider factors such as network security, software security, physical security, personal identification number access controls, password policies and anti-virus software.

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How To Implement A Data Governance Framework?

Here are some steps you can follow to implement a successful framework for your team:

1. Define your goals

To begin, define what goals implementing a governance framework may help you achieve. You can create a list of potential benefits to help you determine the impact a framework may have on your team. Then, consider what types of sensitive data your team stores so you can develop targeted goals to protect it. For example, if you work for a health care facility you might not take extra security measures to protect the memes your colleagues share with each other, but you may want to increase your security measures regarding patient files to ensure you adhere to government regulations.

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2. Assess your current data management processes

Next, assess your team's current data management processes to identify areas for improvement. Consider what processes, roles or responsibilities are vague or undefined. You can also ask the following questions to evaluate how secure and efficient your current processes are:

  • Where do we store sensitive data?

  • Who has access to different types of data within our company?

  • Do any of our external partners have access to our data?

  • How often do we audit our data management practices?

  • What is our process for revoking access to data after someone leaves the company or changes job roles?

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3. Define the processes, roles and responsibilities

Now that you have analysed your current data management procedures, consider what an ideal system might look like by defining its processes, roles and responsibilities. Begin this step by selecting key members of your team to fill important roles in your framework. Some of the most common roles and their responsibilities include:

  • Chief data officer: The chief data officer implements the framework and executes the strategy associated with it.

  • Data owner: The data owner is responsible for protecting the business' data assets.

  • Committee members: Committee members develop procedures and policies that support the framework.

  • Data steward: The data steward enforces the policies the committee members develop and trains other employees to ensure they follow the proper protocols when accessing company data.

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4. Implement the framework

Next, implement the framework within your team. Divide your data management procedures into phases and create a policy or practice for each phase of the data management process. For example, if you are storing sensitive information, you may want to implement a policy that specifies how your team stores and secures this data during different phases of its life cycle. Here are some elements to consider when implementing your framework:

  • Data classification: Establish what type of business data you are storing.

  • Data controller: The data controller may be responsible for defining how members of your team can access specific types of data within the company. They may also define who has decision rights over these access rights.

  • Data steward: The data steward may be responsible for enforcing the policies and guidelines that the data controller puts in place. They may also train other employees to ensure they follow the proper protocols when accessing company data.

Data governance is just one piece of information security and it is not enough to protect your team from cyberattacks alone. To be proactive, you can put in place a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes proper reliance on cyber defence measures, understanding vulnerabilities and calculating the risks associated with them. Some organisations use an effective risk management process. This can help mitigate the potential harms associated with unsecured systems by informing IT staff about vulnerabilities and giving them control over threats through incident response planning.

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5. Track your progress

After you implement your framework, track your progress towards data management goals and best practices. This can allow you to evaluate whether the framework is working effectively as part of a security strategy. During the process, look for any potential challenges when using a framework within your team. You can identify potential challenges by asking the following questions:

  • How effectively are we protecting data?

  • How secure are our systems?

  • How easy is it for internal team members to recover from issues if they impact data access?

  • How easy is it for external partners to recover from issues if they impact data access?

  • Is the process clear enough that our team can create and implement solutions to problems independently, with little or no oversight?

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Benefits Of Implementing This Framework

While many companies choose to implement a framework to prevent data breaches, there are plenty of ways this system can improve your team. Here are some of the most common benefits associated with implementing a framework:

  • Decreases cybersecurity risks and reduces IT costs: Data governance can help reduce cybersecurity risks by increasing oversight and reducing vulnerabilities that can trigger a data breach. These frameworks can also help eliminate some inefficiencies when IT employees are maintaining and updating these systems because they have a set structure they can follow.

  • Improves ability to follow privacy laws: Open access to sensitive data within an organisation can create legal liability regarding violations of various privacy laws. By developing a better understanding of your team's regulations for different levels of sensitive data, you can develop policies with clear guidelines and procedures.

  • Creates internal rules and compliance requirements for data sets: These frameworks can require employees to follow certain internal rules and compliance requirements when handling sensitive data within your team. By defining what type of data you are handling, you can create policies that define how your team stores, manages and protects this information.

  • Improves cross-functional communication and efficiencies: These frameworks provide guidelines and policies for all your internal teams, from IT to finance. You can use these guidelines and policies to establish common workflows that ensure everyone knows the expectations of them when accessing data within your team.

  • Encourages accountability throughout the organisation: By using these frameworks, you can hold team members accountable for their handling of data by referencing specific policies or procedures. You may also hold mandatory trainings related to data governance to help enforce this accountability.

  • Protects private data from customers and employees: When you develop a secure data management and governance system, customers and team members do not access data they are not supposed to access.

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