I've said it many times: data governance is one of the most important topics in IT. How effectively you manage the quality, consistency, usability, security and availability of your organization's data will play a large part in how successful your business ultimately is. Data is the lifeblood of any business, and if the data isn't healthy ... well, you know the rest.

The old sports aphorism applies: It's all about the fundamentals. Many of my clients have a data governance initiative underway or in place, but at many organizations, data governance is a back-burner, IT-driven project that matters only when some serious problem involving data quality arises (read: affects the bottom line). However, data governance should form the underpinning of the information management organization and strategy. As the rock upon which an information management strategy is built, any approach to data governance should be multidisciplinary and enterprise-wide. Successful data governance requires support from across the organization at all levels, from knowledge workers to the C-suite. In my experience, there are four critical principles to a successful data governance implementation effort.

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