Overview of Governance Models: Find the Right Fit

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Jun 27, 2024

Data Governance Model

Recently, a friend reached out to me on LinkedIn with a request. She needed help preparing for a webinar on Data Governance and its various models. She had been assigned to lead this project in her department but felt completely unenthusiastic about it.

I can certainly relate that data governance isn’t typically a subject that sets pulses racing. However, her request prompted some introspection, leading me to delve deeper into the subject.

So, what exactly is a data governance model? Simply put, it’s a structured framework that delineates how data is managed throughout its lifecycle—from inception and storage to ongoing maintenance and disposal.

In this article, we’ll look at different types of data governance models. Some keep control in one place, while others spread it out.

For example, big companies might like a centralized model to keep things consistent everywhere. But smaller ones might prefer a decentralized one for more flexibility.

Let’s dive in…

There are three approaches to data governance—centralized, decentralized, and hybrid, with each offering distinct advantages and challenges.
Centralized: Provides uniformity but can be rigid
Decentralized: Offers agility but may lead to disjointed practices
Hybrid: Offers balance but requires careful planning and monitoring
Building a good governance framework involves stakeholder alignment, clear goal-setting, thorough data mapping, and establishing a governance council. 

What is a Governance Model? 

Data governance model is a set of rules and procedures that prescribe how data must be captured, maintained, retrieved, and utilized in an organization.

The primary reason is that customer information may be managed poorly without supervision, leading to legal consequences and tarnishing the business’s reputation. Without a data governance program, it is impossible to guarantee the quality and compliance of data with the requirements of privacy laws. 

Moreover, if you have a governance model in place, you are protecting your customer’s data from being subject to phishing as well.

The main principles of data governance are:

  • Data accuracy: Aids in ensuring that collected data is accurate and valid and brings out the reliability
  • Data accessibility: Ensures that the clients get the information they need at the right time and from a reliable and secure source, only accessible to the authorized personnel
  • Data consistency: It is responsible for the uniform data definitions, formats, and values across systems
  • Data compliance: Requires adherence to all relevant data laws, regulations, and standards
  • Data transparency: Involves visibility of data handling processes within an organization
  • Data integrity: Ensures accuracy and consistency of data throughout its lifecycle
  • Data Stewardship: Manages and oversees data assets, ensuring quality, accessibility, consistency, and protection

Do the principles seem too high to handle here? Don’t worry, Sprinto is here to help you with all the Governance related tasks and get up to speed with automation.

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Types of Governance Models 

When it comes to data governance, you must consider your options. Before deciding, carefully assess the benefits of centralized and decentralized approaches. After a meaningful conversation with our internal GRC experts, we have consolidated this data in the next section so that you can choose the best framework for your company or department.

Also check: Top GRC Tools Comparison with Features & Reviews

Centralized Data Governance Model

Centralized data governance often becomes a command-and-control setup. Typically, one person is appointed as the data governance lead, making key decisions and steering the program. 

This centralized leader is responsible for establishing policies, standards, and procedures that ensure data quality, security, and compliance across the organization.

Most enterprises opt for this centralized approach, where the IT department consolidates control over IT infrastructure and data management. In this model, the IT department becomes the central hub for all data-related activities, from data collection and storage to processing and analysis. 

Pros and cons of centralized data governance model


Centralized control means uniform policies and procedures are in place. This leads to a sense of uniformity in data handling practices.
One central authority can struggle to address the diverse and changing needs of different departments on time.
With a single point of control, it’s simpler to crack the whip on comprehensive security protocols and track compliance.A one-size-fits-all approach might not suit the unique requirements of various business units, leading to inefficiencies.
The structure ensures all data practices align with legal and regulatory requirements.
Handling all data governance tasks centrally can strain resources and lead to burnout which in turn diminishes overall performance.
Consolidating data management within the IT department allows for better resource allocation and operations.Employees used to decentralized data management might be reluctant to adopt new centralized processes.
Having a designated governance lead centralizes decision-making and accountability for better oversight.If the central governance mechanism encounters problems, it can affect the entire organization’s data management capabilities.

Decentralized Data Governance Model

Decentralized governance offers a responsive, adaptive model that evolves with technological advancements. Instead of one person calling the shots, a committee typically designs and manages the enterprise data governance strategy.

In this setup, different business units have their own data governance teams, each responsible for managing their data assets.

Pros and cons of the decentralized data governance model

With decisions spread among units, this model reacts nimbly to emerging challenges.Without central coordination, standards and procedures may differ, causing inefficiencies.
Customized approaches mean better data quality and relevance.Without oversight, there’s a risk of practices diverging from organizational goals or regulations.
Units have a stronger say in governance, representing diverse needs.Units may duplicate efforts without sharing best practices.
New units or projects can establish governance teams without disrupting existing operations.Data may become isolated within units.

Hybrid Data Governance Model

Hybrid data governance combines the strengths of both top-down and bottom-up approaches. It starts with a centralized framework for governance, technology, and best practices but allows application owners autonomy. 

This means each business area manages its own data and metadata and can develop standards and policies.

The hybrid model can be challenging to implement, but it’s a great option for balancing competitiveness with regulatory compliance. It offers flexibility while ensuring consistency and compliance across the organization.

Pros and cons of the decentralized data governance model

Offers the flexibility of bottom-up autonomy while maintaining the structure of top-down governanceRequires meticulous planning and coordination to ensure smooth implementation.
Provides a solid governance framework, technology, and best practicesWithout proper alignment, there’s a risk of fragmentation or duplication of efforts.
Allows application owners to drive innovation and decision-makingRequires significant investment in resources, tools, and training.
Can adapt to changing business needs and technological advancementsComplexity may slow down decision-making and agility.
Strikes a balance between competitiveness and regulatory adherenceNeeds ongoing monitoring and adjustment to ensure alignment.

Since this is one of the hardest models to implement and requires ongoing monitoring of all your data, you need an easy solution that will get you up to date with managing governance and compliance.

This is where Sprinto comes in. Sprinto is GRC automation software that will help you implement your GRC model within weeks and not months. 

Sprinto connects seamlessly with your systems, doing what is needed to implement the GRC model. And the bonus here is that with a continuous monitoring feature, Sprinto automatically aligns and monitors controls against top security standards like SOC 2 and ISO27001. It continuously evaluates governance, gathers evidence, and triggers remedial actions—all day, every day.

Integrating with your infrastructure, Sprinto fills in the gaps, ensuring your governance and compliance mechanisms run smoothly around the clock. 

This way, you’ll gain a 360-degree real-time view of your compliance status, automate manual tasks such as evidence collection, receive tiered risk alerts, and access other embedded capabilities for effortless compliance and year-round audit readiness.

Automate 80% of your GRC tasks

How To Build a Governance Model? 

Building a governance model might sound complex. And it is complex. However, you need the right guidance tools and planning to get through this. In the below section, we’ve broken down the process into simple steps to help you create a model that works for your organization.

Step 1: Get the Right Stakeholders on the Board

When initiating the development of a governance model from scratch, the foremost task is to garner approval from the board. This step is indispensable, as without the necessary skills and resources among its members, any board would find it challenging to uphold good corporate governance.

Step 2: Set Your Goals and Objectives

After getting the right people involved, everyone needs to agree on what the board should do and what tasks should be left to the management. 

Once everyone’s on the same page, write down these roles and tasks as policies, maybe as part of a bigger board plan.

Some examples of the goals and objectives are:

  • Align GRC efforts with company goals to improve efficiency and meet regulatory standards
  • Develop clear policies to manage risks, strengthen data security, and ensure compliance
  • Measure success through reduced compliance issues, better risk management, and increased stakeholder trust
  • Gain support from key teams to promote a culture of responsibility and compliance.
  • Create a structured framework with defined roles and a GRC committee for oversight
  • Regularly review and update processes to adapt to new regulations and emerging risks

Make sure to state the aims and targets of your data governance plan. Highlight how it can help your organization stand out as a leader in the industry.

Step 3: Map Your Data Assets

Start by figuring out what your physical data assets are and documenting them. This means identifying all the places where your data lives, like databases, servers, or cloud storage. Then, document the processes and pipelines that handle this data. This includes everything from how data is collected to its storage and use.

Why is this important? Well, having this information gives you a solid foundation. With this map, you can do all sorts of useful things. For example, you can track the journey of your data from start to finish, which is called data lineage. 

This helps you understand where your data comes from and how it’s transformed. It also lets you do impact analysis, which means you can see how changes in one part of your data landscape might affect other parts.

Step 4: Setup a Data Governance Council

Setting up a data governance council can really boost your business operations. It ensures your staff is using the right data sets and tools. 

For instance, if there’s conflicting information between different databases, it could cause big problems if employees rely on inaccurate data for important decisions about things like staffing or product development. 

The council helps catch these issues early so they don’t disrupt productivity later.

Who’s in charge? Typically, senior executives from IT and various business departments like marketing, finance, and operations serve as co-chairs. They shape the vision for data governance, provide strategic guidance, and oversee daily council affairs. 

Also, members representing each business line discuss data usage across the organization.

Step 5: Develop a Data Governance Framework

Creating a data governance framework means putting together a plan to organize and document your data governance rules. This plan helps ensure that everyone in your company gets access to reliable data while following rules and regulations.

For example, when it comes to Data Quality:

  • Accuracy: Ensure data is accurate and free from errors
  • Completeness: All necessary data fields must be filled
  • Consistency: Maintain uniform data formats and definitions across systems

Step 6: Measure the Key Performance Indicators of Data Governance

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is paramount for gauging the success of your data governance efforts. To learn more about this, you must divide it into three main areas: people, processes, and technology. Here’s how to measure success in each:

PeopleTraining hours for stakeholdersPercentage of employees trained in data literacyPercentage trained in data governance strategies number of stakeholders trained over time employee engagement in data management meetings and events
ProcessTraining hours for stakeholdersPercentage of employees trained in data literacyPercentage trained in data governance strategiesNumber of stakeholders trained over time employee engagement in data management meetings and events
TechnologyData profiling assistanceError identification and correction in data entriesValidity checks for incoming data secure data storage and maintenance seamless data collection and transfer

Step 7: Provide Ongoing Support

Commit to offering continuous support and guidance throughout the implementation process. This includes:

  • Training: Regularly train your team to understand the new data governance policies and practices.
  • Communication: Keep everyone informed with clear and consistent updates about progress and any changes.
  • Change management: Provide resources and assistance during the transition to help your team adapt to new processes and tools.

Need Help in Implementing Your Data Governance Model?

Now, this is the part where you need to think hard and fast about elevating and taking your data governance strategy to the next level now that it is developed. 

Establishing a strong data governance strategy is easier with the right tools, and Sprinto can help. 

Our GRC automation solution ensures your data is kept safe with 24/7, continuous control monitoring. Our GRC experts will guide you in choosing the best model that suits your business, and Sprinto can be your trusted partner in this endeavor. 

This way, you benefit from an always-on GRC platform that integrates with your existing systems to automatically collect audit-grade evidence, continuously monitor your governance posture, and automate remediation and compliance workflows.

Contact us to learn how Sprinto can elevate your data governance strategies.


Who are the main stakeholders in data governance?

Data governance involves the entire organization to varying degrees, but the key stakeholders are:

  • Data Owners: These individuals are responsible for making and enforcing data-related decisions. 
  • Data Stewards: They ensure that data policies and standards are followed in daily operations. 
  • Data Custodians: Their role involves handling the technical aspects of data management, including onboarding, maintenance, and end-of-life updates of data assets. 

What is a data governance framework?

A data governance framework is a set of rules, processes, and responsibilities for managing an organization’s data. Its goals are to:

  • Data Integrity: Maintain accurate and reliable data
  • Data Use: Help teams effectively leverage data
  • Data Security: Safeguard data from security risks

How does a data governance program work?

A data governance program involves everyone in the organization, with roles varying based on job titles, levels of engagement, and collaboration. Here’s how it typically works. A Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Governance Lead is responsible for the governance program so that it runs smoothly, setting policies and standards. Whereas the corporate finance offers the the necessary budget to support the program.

All in all, everyone’s participation, from top management to individual team members, is crucial for a successful data governance program.

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Meeba, an ISC2-certified cybersecurity specialist, passionately decodes and delivers impactful content on compliance and complex digital security matters. Adept at transforming intricate concepts into accessible insights, she’s committed to enlightening readers. Off the clock, she can be found with her nose in the latest thriller novel or exploring new haunts in the city.

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