Data Product Success With Non-Invasive Data Governance

The role of data products has become pivotal, driving organizations towards insightful decision-making and competitive advantage. However, ensuring the achievement of these data products demands the strategic integration of Non-Invasive Data Governance (NIDG). This approach fortifies data quality, security, compliance, and collaboration while expertly navigating user queries and concerns.

Central to this cooperation is the foundational link between data governance and data products. Data governance, encompassing the execution and enforcement of authority and the formalization of accountability, assumes heightened significance in the context of data products. NIDG roles span diverse dimensions, including data quality assurance, security, compliance, integration, and ethics. This dynamic becomes further accentuated by the user’s perspective, as they seek to understand and maximize the potential of data products, prompting the need for a responsive and collaborative governance framework.

Enter Non-Invasive Data Governance — a transformative approach that aligns seamlessly with existing processes, encourages innovation, and emphasizes tangible value delivery. In this article, we’ll address the intricate interplay between data governance and data products, exploring how Non-Invasive Data Governance not only addresses user questions and concerns, but also lays the groundwork for the success and proliferation of data products in the modern data-driven landscape.

Questions People Have About Data Products

When it comes to data products, people often have several significant questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • What is a data product? – Many people are still unfamiliar with the term “data product” and may not fully understand what it means. They might wonder how data products differ from regular software applications or analytical tools.

    To learn the ABCs of Data Products, please view this Dataversity webinar.
  • How do data products work? – People often want to know the underlying technology and methodologies used in data products. They might ask about the data processing pipeline, algorithms, and data sources utilized.
  • What value do data products provide? – Understanding the specific benefits and value proposition of a data product is essential. People might ask about the potential insights or improvements they can gain from using a particular data product.
  • How is data collected and handled? – Questions about data privacy, security, and governance are common. Users want to know how their data is collected, used, and protected within the data product.
  • What are the data product’s limitations? – People want to know what the data product can and cannot do. They may inquire about its accuracy, potential biases, or scenarios where it might not perform well.
  • How user-friendly is the data product? – Usability is a significant concern. Users may ask about the user interface, ease of interaction, and the learning curve involved in using the data product effectively.
  • Is the data product scalable? – Users might be interested in understanding if the data product can handle large-scale data and grow with their organization’s needs.
  • What are the costs associated with the data product? – Questions about pricing models, licensing, and ongoing maintenance expenses are common concerns.
  • How does the data product integrate with existing systems? – Users often want to know about the compatibility of the data product with their current tech stack and how easy it is to integrate into their workflows.
  • Can the data product address specific use cases? – People might inquire about the applicability of the data product to their unique business needs and use cases.
  • What kind of support and training are available? – Users want to know if there’s adequate customer support and resources available to help them effectively utilize the data product.
  • Is the data product compliant with regulations? – Concerns about data product compliance with relevant data protection and privacy laws are essential, especially in regulated industries.
  • How do I interpret and act upon the insights? – Users might need guidance on interpreting the results generated by the data product and translating them into actionable steps.
  • What are the success stories or case studies? – Users often seek evidence of the data product’s effectiveness through real-world success stories and case studies.

Addressing these questions and concerns helps build trust and confidence in data products and ensures that users can make informed decisions about adopting and utilizing them effectively.

Data Governance and Data Products

Data governance plays a crucial role in the development, management, and success of data products. Data governance refers to the overall management, protection, and utilization of an organization’s data assets. It ensures that data is reliable, accurate, consistent, and compliant with relevant regulations and policies. When it comes to data products, which are tools, applications, or services built to leverage data for specific purposes, data governance becomes even more important for the following reasons:

  • Data Quality Assurance – Data governance practices ensure that the data used in data products is of high quality. High-quality data leads to more reliable insights and better decision-making. Data governance processes monitor data quality, validate data sources, and establish rules for data entry and maintenance, all of which contribute to better data products.
  • Data Security and Privacy – Data products often deal with sensitive information, and ensuring data security and privacy is paramount. Data governance establishes protocols for data access, usage, and protection. By adhering to data governance guidelines, organizations can mitigate the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive data through their data products.
  • Compliance and Regulation – Many industries have strict regulations governing how data should be handled and used. Data governance helps in ensuring compliance with these regulations. Data products need to adhere to data governance policies to avoid legal issues and potential penalties related to data misuse or mishandling.
  • Data Integration and Interoperability – Data governance promotes data standardization and integration across various data sources. This standardization is essential for data products that rely on data from multiple systems or departments. Consistent data formats and definitions facilitate data integration and interoperability, making it easier to build effective data products.
  • Accountability and Ownership – Data governance defines roles, responsibilities, and accountability for data management. For data products to be successful, it is vital to have clear ownership and accountability for the data used in these products. Data governance establishes these roles, ensuring that data product development and maintenance are well-managed.
  • Data Lifecycle Management – Data governance covers the entire data lifecycle, from data creation to data archiving or deletion. Understanding the lifecycle of data is crucial for data products to ensure that the right data is available at the right time and that outdated or irrelevant data is appropriately handled.
  • Data Ethics and Bias Mitigation – Data governance practices include guidelines on data ethics and bias mitigation. Data products should be developed in a way that ensures fairness, transparency, and accountability in their outcomes. Data governance helps organizations address potential biases in data and algorithms used in data products.

Data governance is closely related to data products as it provides the framework, policies, and practices necessary to ensure the quality, security, compliance, and ethical use of data in these products. By incorporating data governance principles, organizations can develop more reliable and valuable data products that meet their business objectives while adhering to legal and ethical standards.

Aspects of Data Products That Must Be Governed

To ensure the effectiveness, reliability, and compliance of a data product, several aspects need to be governed. These aspects encompass the entire lifecycle of the data product, from its conception to retirement. Here are the key aspects of a data product that require governance:

  • Data Quality – Governance should address data quality standards, data validation processes, and data cleansing techniques to ensure that the data used in the product is accurate, complete, and consistent.
  • Data Privacy and Security – Data governance needs to define protocols for data access, usage, and protection to safeguard sensitive information and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations.
  • Data Acquisition – Governance should cover the procedures and rules for obtaining data from various sources, including data licensing, data sharing agreements, and data acquisition best practices.
  • Data Integration and Transformation – For data products that utilize data from multiple sources, governance should govern how data is integrated, transformed, and harmonized to ensure consistency and compatibility.
  • Data Storage and Retention – Governance should address data storage practices, including data retention policies, data archiving, and data disposal to manage data throughout its lifecycle.
  • Data Usage and Access Control – Governance needs to define who can access and use the data product, and under what circumstances, to prevent unauthorized access and misuse.
  • Data Ethics and Bias Mitigation – Governance should include guidelines to ensure the ethical use of data and to identify and mitigate potential biases in the data product’s algorithms and outcomes.
  • Data Documentation and Metadata Management – Governance should cover data documentation standards, metadata management, and data lineage to ensure transparency and traceability of data.
  • Data Governance Roles and Responsibilities – Clearly defining roles and responsibilities for data governance stakeholders, such as data stewards and data custodians, ensures accountability and ownership.
  • Data Product Performance Monitoring and Management -Governance should include mechanisms to monitor and manage the performance of the data product, ensuring it meets the desired outcomes and performance metrics.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Governance needs to ensure that the data product adheres to relevant regulations, industry standards, and data governance policies.
  • Data Product Versioning and Change Management -Governance should cover versioning and change management processes for data products to track updates, modifications, and their impacts.
  • User Training and Education – Governance should include training and educational programs for users to understand how to use the data product effectively and responsibly.
  • Data Product Lifecycle Management – Governance should address the entire lifecycle of the data product, from ideation and development to retirement and replacement.
  • Business and Data Product Alignment – Governance should ensure that the data product aligns with the organization’s business objectives and that it continues to provide value over time.

By governing these aspects of a data product, organizations can create and maintain data products that are robust, secure, compliant, and aligned with their strategic goals. Effective data governance helps build trust among users, reduces risks, and maximizes the value derived from data products.

Why Non-Invasive Data Governance the Best Approach to Govern Data Products

Non-Invasive Data Governance is considered the best approach for governing data products because it emphasizes flexibility, agility, and collaboration while minimizing disruption to existing processes and workflows. Unlike traditional top-down, command-and-control data governance approaches, Non-Invasive Data Governance focuses on achieving governance goals through cooperation and participation rather than imposing rigid structures. Here are some reasons why Non-Invasive Data Governance is preferred for governing data products:

  1. Promotes Collaboration – Non-Invasive Data Governance encourages collaboration between business users, data professionals, and stakeholders. It fosters a culture of teamwork, where all relevant parties can contribute to data governance decisions and policies, leading to better outcomes for data products.
  2. Agile and Responsive – Data products often require continuous updates and enhancements. Non-Invasive Data Governance allows for more agile decision-making, enabling quicker responses to changing business needs and emerging data challenges.
  3. Minimizes Resistance to Change – Traditional data governance approaches can encounter resistance from teams or individuals who perceive it as restrictive or bureaucratic. Non-Invasive Data Governance seeks to align with existing processes and is more likely to be embraced by the organization.
  4. Focuses on Business Value – Non-Invasive Data Governance aligns data initiatives with business objectives, ensuring that data products are developed and governed in a way that delivers tangible value to the organization.
  5. Data Democratization – Data products are often intended for use by various stakeholders across the organization. Non-Invasive Data Governance allows for more democratized access to data, making it easier for users to access and utilize data in their decision-making processes.
  6. Facilitates Innovation – Data products may require experimentation and innovation. Non-Invasive Data Governance provides the freedom to explore new data-driven ideas while still adhering to core data governance principles.
  7. Encourages Data Stewardship – In Non-Invasive Data Governance, data stewardship is a shared responsibility among relevant stakeholders rather than being solely assigned to a central authority. This encourages greater ownership and accountability for data quality and usage.
  8. Adapts to Dynamic Environments – Data products may operate in rapidly changing environments. Non-Invasive Data Governance can adapt to these changes more easily, ensuring the data product remains effective and compliant.
  9. Practical Implementation – Non-Invasive Data Governance is often more practical to implement, especially in organizations that lack mature data governance structures. It allows for gradual improvements without overburdening resources.
  10. Better User Adoption – By involving end-users in the governance process, Non-Invasive Data Governance is more likely to gain user buy-in, leading to higher adoption rates for data products.
  11. Focus on Education and Communication – Non-Invasive Data Governance places importance on educating users about data governance principles and promoting communication to ensure a common understanding of data-related goals and practices.

It’s important to note that Non-Invasive Data Governance doesn’t mean an absence of governance. Rather, it advocates a more inclusive, collaborative, and adaptive approach to governing data products. By striking the right balance between control and flexibility, Non-Invasive Data Governance helps organizations maximize the value of their data products while fostering a data-driven and collaborative culture.


Non-Invasive Data Governance is the preferred approach for governing data products because it emphasizes collaboration, agility, and alignment with business objectives. Unlike traditional and top-down governance methods, Non-Invasive Data Governance involves stakeholders from various teams, encouraging teamwork and buy-in. This approach is agile and responsive, enabling quick adaptations to changing business needs and data challenges.

By avoiding rigid structures, Non-Invasive Data Governance minimizes resistance to change and fosters a culture of innovation. It focuses on delivering tangible value to the organization and democratizes data access, making it easier for users to utilize data in decision-making. Non-Invasive Data Governance adapts to dynamic environments and encourages data stewardship as a shared responsibility.

Practical to implement, Non-Invasive Data Governance promotes user adoption through education and communication. It strikes a balance between control and flexibility, allowing data products to thrive while maintaining data-driven and collaborative practices. Overall, Non-Invasive Data Governance empowers organizations to achieve effective and compliant data products while fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation.

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Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. Seiner

Robert (Bob) S. Seiner is the President and Principal of KIK Consulting & Educational Services and the Publisher Emeritus of The Data Administration Newsletter. Seiner is a thought-leader in the fields of data governance and metadata management. KIK (which stands for “knowledge is king”) offers consulting, mentoring and educational services focused on Non-Invasive Data Governance, data stewardship, data management and metadata management solutions. Seiner is the author of the industry’s top selling book on data governance – Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success (Technics Publications 2014) and the followup book - Non-Invasive Data Governance Strikes Again: Gaining Experience and Perspective (Technics 2023), and has hosted the popular monthly webinar series on data governance called Real-World Data Governance (w Dataversity) since 2012. Seiner holds the position of Adjunct Faculty and Instructor for the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College Chief Data Officer Executive Education program.

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