Data Governance Council: Benefits, Roles & Steps

Updated August 04th, 2023
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What is a data governance council? #

A Data Governance Council (DGC) is a group or body within an organization tasked with establishing and enforcing policies, standards, and procedures related to data management and governance.

This council typically consists of key stakeholders and experts from various departments, including IT, legal, business operations, and compliance.

Table of contents #

  1. What is a data governance council?
  2. What does it do?
  3. Key benefits
  4. Purposes
  5. Roles and responsibilities
  6. Real-world examples
  7. How to create one?
  8. Related reads

What does a data governance council do? #

A data governance council is responsible for overseeing and managing the organization’s data assets. Its primary function is to ensure that data is handled, maintained, and utilized in a manner that aligns with the organization’s strategic goals, legal compliance requirements, and ethical considerations.

The DGC sets policies, standards, and procedures related to data management and governance. This includes defining how data is collected, stored, accessed, shared, and used within the organization.

By implementing robust data governance frameworks, the council works to maintain the quality, accuracy, and security of the data, ensuring that it is used consistently and responsibly across different departments. This plays a vital role in risk mitigation, protecting against potential data breaches or misuse.

Furthermore, the council acts as a bridge between various stakeholders, fostering collaboration, and ensuring that data practices align with business objectives, regulatory requirements, and customer expectations. Through these multifaceted roles, the Data Governance Council supports the organization in leveraging data as a valuable asset, enhancing decision-making, innovation, and operational efficiency.

And why is it important to organizations?

7 Key benefits of data governance councils #

Data governance councils provide several crucial benefits to an organization. They play a vital role in managing, utilizing, and protecting data, which is often considered one of the most valuable assets in today’s information-driven landscape. Here’s an overview of the key benefits:

  1. Strategic alignment
  2. Compliance and risk management
  3. Data quality management
  4. Operational efficiency
  5. Enhanced collaboration and communication
  6. Customer and stakeholder trust
  7. Innovation and competitive advantage

1. Strategic alignment #

  • Aligns data with business goals: DGCs ensure that data management practices align with the strategic objectives and core values of the organization.
  • Enhances decision-making: By maintaining data quality and consistency, DGCs enable better-informed business decisions.

2. Compliance and risk management #

  • Ensures legal compliance: DGCs help an organization stay compliant with relevant laws and regulations related to data privacy and security.
  • Mitigates data-related risks: By implementing robust data governance policies, DGCs identify and mitigate risks like breaches, data loss, or corruption.

3. Data quality management #

  • Improves data accuracy: DGCs implement procedures to maintain the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of data across the organization.
  • Ensures data integrity: By monitoring and controlling data throughout its lifecycle, DGCs ensure that the data remains unaltered and reliable.

4. Operational efficiency #

  • Streamlines data processes: DGCs create standardized processes for handling data, which leads to more efficient operations.
  • Reduces redundancy: By controlling the duplication of data, DGCs help in reducing costs and ensuring that resources are used optimally.

5. Enhanced collaboration and communication #

  • Fosters inter-departmental collaboration: DGCs facilitate collaboration between different departments, ensuring uniform understanding and usage of data.
  • Improves communication: Clear policies and procedures enhance communication within the organization, ensuring that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in data governance.

6. Customer and stakeholder trust #

  • Builds customer confidence: Robust data governance demonstrates to customers that the organization takes data privacy and security seriously.
  • Strengthens stakeholder relationships: Transparency in data handling builds trust with stakeholders, including investors, partners, and regulators.

7. Innovation and competitive advantage #

  • Drives innovation: By providing accessible, high-quality data, DGCs support innovation and research within the organization.
  • Creates competitive advantage: Effective data governance allows organizations to leverage data as a strategic asset, setting them apart from competitors.

By understanding and implementing a well-structured data governance council, an organization can turn data into a strategic asset, enabling better decision-making, innovation, and growth.

The 7 true purposes of a data governance council #

In this section, let’s understand the true purposes aka key objectives of a data governance council. Here they are:

  1. Setting policies and standards
  2. Ensuring compliance
  3. Risk mitigation
  4. Data quality assurance
  5. Strategic alignment
  6. Fostering collaboration
  7. Enhancing customer trust

Let’s understand each purpose quickly.

1. Setting policies and standards #

The DGC creates and oversees the implementation of data governance policies, procedures, and standards that align with the organization’s goals and regulatory requirements.

2. Ensuring compliance #

Compliance with legal and regulatory mandates, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and other data protection laws, is a critical task. The DGC helps the organization to stay compliant by continuously monitoring regulations and adapting policies accordingly.

3. Risk mitigation #

By implementing a robust data governance framework, the DGC helps to identify and mitigate data-related risks, such as breaches, loss, and corruption of data.

4. Data quality assurance #

Ensuring the quality, accuracy, and consistency of data is vital for decision-making and business processes. The DGC sets up mechanisms to maintain data integrity across the organization.

5. Strategic alignment #

By aligning data governance with business goals, the DGC helps in creating a strategic advantage. Proper governance ensures that data is leveraged effectively to support business initiatives and drive innovation.

6. Fostering collaboration #

The DGC promotes collaboration between various departments, ensuring that data is used consistently and responsibly across the organization.

7. Enhancing customer trust #

Robust data governance practices demonstrate to customers and partners that the organization takes data security and privacy seriously, thereby enhancing trust and reputation.

What are the key roles and responsibilities of a data governance council? #

In an increasingly data-centric world, the data governance council serves as a critical entity within organizations, orchestrating the various facets of data management. The data governance council is tasked with a myriad of responsibilities, ranging from strategic alignment and policy formulation to compliance enforcement and quality control. Below, we’ll delve into the specific roles and responsibilities that make up the comprehensive functions of a Data Governance Council.

1. Defining and Implementing Data Governance Policies and Standards #

The DGC is instrumental in defining the rules, policies, and standards that govern how data is handled within the organization. This includes:

1.1 Developing Comprehensive Guidelines #

The Data Governance Council (DGC) formulates overarching guidelines that detail how data is to be collected, processed, stored, and shared. This involves understanding the organization’s specific needs, industry requirements, and legal obligations, and creating policies that reflect these nuances.

1.2 Establishing Uniform Standards #

Standardization across different departments ensures consistency and reliability in data handling. The DGC works to establish common terminologies, definitions, and processes that prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding.

2. Regulatory compliance and risk management #

Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is paramount, and the DGC plays a pivotal role in:

2.1 Continuous regulatory monitoring #

With constantly evolving laws and regulations related to data privacy and protection, the DGC must actively monitor changes and ensure that the organization’s practices comply with current requirements.

2.2 Proactive risk assessment and mitigation #

Risk management involves identifying potential vulnerabilities in data handling and implementing measures to prevent breaches, data corruption, or other forms of data loss. The DGC must take a proactive stance, evaluating potential risks and devising strategies to mitigate them.

3. Quality assurance and data integrity maintenance #

Data quality is foundational to decision-making, and the DGC’s responsibilities include:

3.1 Ongoing quality checks #

The DGC implements quality controls that ensure data remains accurate and reliable. This may include setting up automated checks, periodic manual reviews, and implementing correction procedures when discrepancies are found.

3.2 Guarding data integrity #

Data integrity refers to the accuracy and consistency of data over its lifecycle. Ensuring that data remains unaltered and true to its original state requires robust security measures and clear handling procedures.

4. Facilitating collaboration and communication #

The DGC acts as a bridge between various stakeholders, fostering collaboration and clear communication:

4.1 Bridging departmental silos #

Different departments may have varied ways of interpreting and utilizing data. The DGC works to bridge these gaps, ensuring that data is understood and used uniformly across the organization.

4.2 Educational initiatives #

Education and training on data governance principles empower stakeholders to handle data responsibly and in alignment with organizational policies. The DGC may organize workshops, provide resources, and offer continuous support in this area.

5. Aligning data governance with strategic business objectives #

Ensuring that data governance aligns with the organization’s goals is vital:

5.1 Strategic mapping #

The DGC ensures that data governance is not an isolated function but is intrinsically linked to the organization’s broader goals. This alignment helps in leveraging data as a strategic asset to drive growth and innovation.

5.2 Supporting business innovation #

By maintaining high-quality, accessible, and secure data, the DGC fosters an environment where data can be used creatively to innovate new products, services, or business models.

6. Building trust with customers and stakeholders #

Building trust with customers and other stakeholders is a key function:

6.1 Robust data privacy measures #

Trust is paramount in the age of data. Implementing and communicating strong data privacy measures reassures customers and stakeholders that their information is handled with the utmost care and in compliance with privacy laws.

6.2 Transparency and Accountability #

Transparent communication about how data is used, who has access to it, and how it’s protected fosters trust and confidence among stakeholders. The DGC plays a key role in ensuring this transparency and holding the organization accountable to its stated policies.

The intricate roles and responsibilities of a Data Governance Council reflect the complexity of managing data in today’s dynamic landscape. From policy formulation and compliance monitoring to quality assurance and strategic alignment, the DGC operates at the intersection of technology, law, business strategy, and ethics. It not only safeguards the organization against risks but also enables it to wield data as a powerful tool for insight, innovation, and growth. In essence, the DGC acts as the steward and strategist of data, positioning it as both a protective shield and a propellant for organizational success.

5 Real-world examples of the data governance council #

Below are detailed real-world examples of data governance councils across different industries and sectors. These examples provide insights into how organizations are leveraging data governance councils to drive value, maintain compliance, and enhance efficiency. They are:

  1. IBM’s data governance council
  2. United Nations (UN) data governance framework
  3. Toronto dominion (TD) bank data governance council
  4. U.S. federal data strategy’s data governance body
  5. General electric (GE) data governance council

Let’s look into each examples in detail.

1. IBM’s data governance council #


IBM’s data governance council is a collaborative body of 50 organizations, aimed at devising policies, principles, and best practices for data governance. Formed in 2005, it has been a pioneering force in shaping the data governance landscape.

Structure and Purpose

IBM’s data governance council focuses on risk management, data quality, policy management, and business optimization. Its endeavors have led to innovative models to evaluate data risk and quality, allowing member organizations to make data-driven decisions efficiently.


IBM’s council has contributed to the broader industry by developing frameworks and tools, including a data risk management model. It has helped businesses understand the value of their data, ensuring better risk assessment and compliance management.

2. United Nations (UN) data governance framework #


The UN data governance framework sets a precedent for governance on a global scale. It was established to handle and organize data generated across different UN bodies and agencies.

Structure and purpose

The framework’s focus is to ensure that data is managed consistently across the organization, aligning with the UN’s values and objectives. It aims to provide data security, quality assurance, and interoperability within different UN entities.


The UN’s data governance framework has facilitated better data management and information sharing among member states, contributing to more coherent and informed policy decisions on global matters like health, education, and poverty reduction.

3. Toronto dominion (TD) bank data governance council #


Toronto dominion bank, a multinational financial services provider, has a robust Data Governance Council aimed at ensuring data quality, compliance, and strategic alignment with business goals.

Structure and purpose

TD bank’s data governance council focuses on compliance with financial regulations, data privacy laws, and the standardization of data processes across different business units. It has implemented measures to ensure data quality, risk management, and efficient business operations.


Through effective governance, TD Bank has managed to align its data strategy with business objectives, ensuring streamlined operations, enhanced customer trust, and adherence to stringent financial regulations.

4. U.S. federal data strategy’s data governance body #


The U.S. federal data strategy includes a governance body responsible for guiding federal agencies in implementing their data strategies in alignment with governmental goals and regulatory compliance.

Structure and Purpose

The data governance body focuses on enhancing data access, sharing, quality, and transparency across federal agencies. It supports a collaborative approach to decision-making and helps in aligning individual agency goals with the broader federal strategy.


The U.S. Federal Data Strategy’s governance body has fostered collaboration among agencies, improved decision-making processes, and ensured that federal data initiatives are aligned, transparent, and compliant with relevant laws.

5. General electric (GE) data governance council #


General electric, a multinational conglomerate, has a data governance council that plays a vital role in ensuring that data is managed in a way that aligns with organizational strategy, compliance requirements, and operational efficiency.

Structure and purpose

GE’s data governance council has implemented standardized data definitions, metadata management, quality assurance, and security protocols. It ensures that data practices align with business objectives and regulatory compliance across various sectors like healthcare, energy, and aviation.


GE’s governance council has improved data quality and consistency across the organization. It has also fostered innovation by ensuring that data is accessible and usable for various business units, leading to more informed decisions and growth.

These examples highlight the diverse applications of data governance across various sectors, reflecting a growing recognition of data as a critical asset in decision-making, innovation, and operational excellence. The lessons learned from these organizations can provide valuable insights for others looking to establish or enhance their data governance frameworks.

How to create a data governance council: 7 Steps approach #

Creating a data governance council (DGC) is a complex process that requires careful planning, coordination, and execution. The following step-by-step guide outlines the process, breaking it down into specific phases to ensure that the council is set up in a manner that aligns with the organization’s goals and regulatory requirements.

Step 1: Assess the organization’s needs #

Identify the scope and objectives

  • Analyze the organization’s data landscape, identifying the main challenges, opportunities, and requirements.
  • Define the specific objectives that the DGC will aim to achieve, such as compliance, quality control, or strategic alignment.

Determine the required resources

  • Evaluate the human, technological, and financial resources required to establish and operate the DGC effectively.

Step 2: Obtain senior leadership buy-in #

Present the business case

  • Craft a compelling business case outlining the necessity and benefits of the DGC, including potential ROI.
  • Highlight how the DGC aligns with broader organizational goals and industry best practices.

Secure executive sponsorship

  • Gain support and endorsement from senior leadership to ensure the DGC’s strategic importance and organizational priority.

Step 3: Define the structure and membership #

Outline the structure

  • Design the organizational structure of the DGC, specifying roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines.

Select members

  • Identify key stakeholders and subject matter experts from different departments to be part of the council.
  • Consider including legal, IT, business, and other relevant areas to ensure a comprehensive perspective.

Step 4: Develop policies and guidelines #

Create governance framework

  • Draft the governing policies, standards, and procedures that the DGC will oversee, reflecting the organization’s specific needs and compliance requirements.

Establish performance metrics

  • Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and success metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the DGC.

Step 5: Implement communication and collaboration mechanisms #

Develop communication strategies

  • Create clear communication channels and mechanisms to facilitate information sharing and collaboration within the DGC and with other stakeholders.

Foster collaboration

  • Encourage cross-departmental collaboration through regular meetings, workshops, and joint initiatives.

Step 6: Provide training and education #

Design training programs

  • Develop training materials and programs to educate DGC members and other stakeholders about the principles, policies, and practices of data governance.

Offer continuous support

  • Provide ongoing support and resources to help DGC members adapt to new policies and challenges.

Step 7: Monitor and evaluate performance #

Implement regular monitoring

  • Establish a routine monitoring process to assess the performance of the DGC against the defined KPIs and objectives.

Conduct periodic reviews

  • Organize regular reviews to reflect on achievements, challenges, and opportunities for improvement, making necessary adjustments.

Creating a data governance council is a strategic investment that requires careful planning, collaboration, and continuous oversight. By systematically assessing needs, securing leadership support, defining structure, developing policies, facilitating communication, providing training, and monitoring performance, an organization can establish a DGC that aligns with its goals and effectively stewards its valuable data assets.

Bottom line #

Establishing and nurturing a Data Governance Council (DGC) is a vital step for organizations seeking to maximize the potential of their data assets. This cohesive body plays a multifaceted role, ensuring strategic alignment, compliance, data quality, operational efficiency, collaboration, customer trust, and innovation. By implementing a well-structured DGC, organizations can unleash the power of data to drive informed decision-making, foster innovation, and gain a competitive edge in today’s data-driven landscape.

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