Governance Shift Left: Leading the Way among Data Governance Frameworks

By Paolo Platter, CTO & Co-founder, Agile Lab

In the era of big data, where information is the currency of the digital age, effective data governance has emerged as a critical imperative for organizations across industries. Yet, despite its undeniable importance, many businesses continue to struggle with the complexities of managing and leveraging their data assets efficiently. This article delves into the challenges plaguing traditional data governance frameworks and explores the transformative potential of pioneering a shift-left approach to governance.

The Disconnect Between Data Governance and Data Management

Data governance, at its core, encompasses the policies, processes and frameworks that organizations employ to manage and utilize data effectively. However, in many cases, the traditional data governance process has lagged behind the rapid evolution of data management and engineering practices. This disconnect has resulted in a reactive approach to governance, where policies are often implemented as a remedial measure in response to data breaches, compliance violations or issues with data quality.

Why is Data Governance broken?

Several key challenges contribute to the breakdown of traditional data governance frameworks:

  • Misalignment Between Data and Metadata: Data and metadata, essential components of the data management process, are often managed independently by different teams. This disconnect leads to inconsistencies and gaps in data quality, as well as issues with interpreting and contextualizing data.
  • Loss of Information During Knowledge Hand-off: The hand-off of knowledge between domain experts, data engineers and data stewards is filled with challenges, including knowledge loss, alignment issues and unclear ownership, which can impact productivity and data quality.
  • Lack of Data Catalog Completeness: Incomplete data catalogs, resulting from challenges in mapping out the entire data landscape and prioritizing data assets, undermine decision-making and erode trust in the reliability of data.
  • Data Quality Effectiveness: When data governance teams are solely responsible for defining data quality controls, there is often a disconnect between those who create the controls and those who implement them, leading to delays, gaps in coverage and ineffective controls.

Data Governance Redefined

To address these challenges, a paradigm shift is necessary. Data governance must be redefined as an integral part of the data engineering process, with a focus on ensuring that data is available, usable, secure and compliant from the moment of its creation. This redefined approach emphasizes the integration of metadata management with data management, aligning the lifecycles of data, software and metadata to improve data consistency, accuracy and credibility.

A New and Better Data Governance Framework: Governance Shift Left

The Governance Shift Left represents a proactive approach to data governance that emphasizes integrating governance practices earlier in the data lifecycle. Drawing inspiration from the concept of shifting-left in software development, this approach advocates for embedding governance principles and policies into the data engineering process from the outset.

The Governance Shift Left is built on four pillars:

  1. Metadata as Code: Aligning metadata, code and data lifecycles to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  2. You Build It, You Govern It: Making data engineering teams accountable for adhering to governance policies.
  3. Not Just Guidelines: Enforcing governance policies through code to ensure compliance and consistency.
  4. Context-Aware: To provide clarity and understanding, governance policies need to be documented, accessible and self-explanatory.

The primary benefits brought by adopting this practice are

  • Quality Gates: Applying quality gates to data documentation (as it is normally done with software development) to improve data quality and reduce maintenance costs.
  • No Hand-off: Eliminating the need for hand-offs between teams allows faster time-to-market and improved productivity.
  • No Data Entry in the Catalog: Automating data catalog updates to ensure completeness and accuracy.
  • Data and Metadata Always in Sync: Ensuring trust in the data catalog by synchronizing data and metadata seamlessly.

Shift left offers a proactive and holistic strategy for data lifecycle management. By incorporating early-stage governance, real-time surveillance, automation and stakeholder engagement, this methodology stands in stark contrast to the reactive and compartmentalized approaches of traditional models.

It takes the right platform to eliminate the potential challenges of adopting and adapting the shift-left approach in any organization. The emergence of Witboost enables enterprises to harness the near- and long-term benefits of Shift Left Governance through automated and streamlined governance.

Witboost automates data governance throughout the entire data component lifecycle. The platform enforces governance policies as code and automates their implementation, creating non-by-passable rules. This increases overall quality standards and reduces compliance risks while enabling full visibility of policy results and allowing organizations to drill down to specific resources.


In conclusion, the Governance Shift Left offers a transformative approach to data governance, addressing the shortcomings of traditional frameworks and paving the way for a more agile, reliable and cost-effective governance model. As data continues to evolve as a strategic asset, organizations must embrace the Governance Shift Left as a guiding principle for navigating the complexities of the digital age.

By pioneering proactive governance practices, businesses can unlock the full potential of their data assets and drive innovation, efficiency and growth in an increasingly data-driven world. The Governance Shift Left calls forth, presenting a visionary strategy to redefine data governance for a brighter and more secure digital future.

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