The 'Pain Principle' of Data Governance

Lora Bentley

In a piece at B Eye Network, Bill Inmon asks the question, "Do we really need data governance?" Not surprisingly, his answer is yes.


Regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II require data governance, which is more than what the typical database administrator usually handles. Data administration involves making sure data loads, transactions and updates occur properly and that data is available when it is called for, among other things. Data governance involves ensuring the accuracy of the content of the data.


These duties are best handled by a data steward. According to Inmon:

The data steward has the power to decide how data is to be used and interpreted all over the organization. ...But there is another side to the job of the data steward. And that side is to be a firefighter who is on call every time there is a problem with the data.

Keeping both the rewards and the responsibilities in mind is important when selecting the steward (or stewards) who will be responsible for an organization's data. Even more important, however, is the pain principle. It's best to select the person or people with a stake in the data's accuracy -- someone who will actually feel pain if there is a problem.


If the data is such that no one cares whether a particular data set is accurate, the argument can be made, he says, that the data is not necessary and should not be maintained.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 5, 2008 11:08 AM johnnie konstantas johnnie konstantas  says:
Excellent article but it limits governance to database data. Unstructured data also requires governance and the assignment of stewards.Would you not agree? Reply

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