Every business, no matter the size, needs to practice a data governance program to ensure the security and integrity of their data. Your company’s data is one of your most valuable assets, so managing it correctly is vital. Not only is your data vital to the day to day functioning of your business, it is also crucial for inspiring the creation of new products and services. To help you manage your data effectively and securely, follow these five data governance best practices.

1.  Establish a singular data governance strategy

In order to manage your data effectively, it is best to keep it simple with one singular data governance strategy. This will ensure that everyone within your business is working from the same strategy. Your data strategy should outline how you will source, store and safeguard your customer information on a long-term basis. Though the details of these strategies might vary from business to business, each should be designed to adapt to necessary changes in order to assure long-term sustainability.

2.  Keep An Updated Catalogue of Customer Information

Ideally, you should store your customer information in one central and permanent place, and this information should be kept up to date. This catalogue should include all information you have about each customer, covering data from contact details to purchase history. Holding all of this information in one place, where all relevant people can access it, will help you to build a taxonomy by which you can manage your customers.

3.  Assign Data Stewards

Assign data stewards to ensure that there are individuals within your company who are accountable for all the various types of data you deal with. These stewards can ensure that each team within your company is following your data governance strategy and policies. One of the main aims of data governance is to ensure data quality in terms of accuracy, accessibility, consistency and completeness, and increasing an individual’s accountability for data, usually results in them taking greater care.

4.  Establish a Master Data Management System

This is especially important for larger companies, as Master Data Management is a reference point that allows all teams and individuals to use data consistently across the business, and it is most commonly used for storing your product and customer data. All teams across the business will need to be briefed on how to present and store the data, but because this information is stored in one central, easy-to-acess location, you will see increased efficiency across the company.

5.  Enforce Data Rules and Encourage Compliance

It is important to enforce consistent data governance rules across the organisation but, unfortunately, you can’t expect that mandate alone will be enough to ensure your employees’ compliance. To increase the likelihood of compliance, as you can’t simply rely on goodwill, ensure that your data governance rules are easy to understand and accessible, eliminating the excuse that information was not made clear. You should also show your team that you are willing to consider their opinions on data governance by holding regular meetings about your policy- this will show them that you care about what they have to say, and aren’t trying to restrict them.

It is becoming more important than ever that your business works to protect its data, especially with the new GDPR. This means that, from the very outset, you should make your team aware of the importance of effective data governance, highlighting their responsibility (as a whole team and as individuals) of data management within the business.

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