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Model Governance Best Practices for ML Models

October 30, 2023
min read

According to a report by INNOQ, a staggering 56% of professionals found the implementation of model governance among the top challenges in transitioning ML applications to production. The complexity arises from the multifaceted requirements of managing, monitoring, and ensuring the reliability of ML models. So, what is model governance, and why is it so crucial?

In this blog, we'll dive deep into the intricacies of ML model governance, explore various best practices for model governance, and highlight the significance of team structures in the overall governance process.

What is Model Governance?

The New 5-Step Approach to Model Governance for the Modern Enterprise |  Fiddler AI Blog

Model Governance is the structured approach to managing machine learning (ML) models throughout their lifecycle. Think of it as the rulebook that ensures your ML models are built, deployed, and maintained effectively and ethically.

ML governance oversees the team governance model, covering every stage from development to deployment, ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear.

Why is Model Governance Important?

Model Governance is paramount for several reasons. Firstly, as machine learning models drive critical decisions, ensuring their accuracy, fairness, and transparency is essential. Without a robust ML governance system, businesses risk deploying flawed models that can harm their reputation and financial standing and even violate regulations.

A solid model governance framework also aids in maintaining consistency, especially when multiple teams are involved. It clarifies roles in a team governance model and provides tools to track performance, mitigate risks, and facilitate audits. Effective governance boosts trust in ML applications and paves the way for scalable and sustainable machine-learning integrations.

Top 4 Model Governance Use Cases

As organizations increasingly rely on machine learning models to make pivotal decisions, the need for a structured governance process becomes evident. Here are the top four use cases that highlight the undeniable importance and versatility of model governance:

1. Regulatory Compliance

In industries like finance and healthcare, adhering to regulations is non-negotiable. Model governance ensures that machine learning models comply with industry standards and laws.

With a structured ML governance process, businesses can demonstrate due diligence, streamline audit trails, and ensure that models don’t inadvertently discriminate or make biased decisions. Using the right model governance tools, teams can also identify and rectify non-compliance swiftly, mitigating potential risks.

2. Model Version Control

As models evolve, tracking changes becomes crucial. Machine learning model governance facilitates the systematic management of different model versions, ensuring that teams always deploy the most optimized variant.

This practice, inherent in a model governance framework, ensures businesses can roll back to previous versions if an update introduces unforeseen challenges or errors.

3. Risk Management

In the world of ML, errors can be costly. Model governance acts as the first line of defense against such pitfalls. ML model governance identifies potential risks early by defining standard testing, validation, and monitoring procedures.

It enables teams to continuously gauge model performance, ensuring deviations from expected behaviors are caught and rectified in real time.

4. Operational Efficiency

Implementing a team governance model under the umbrella of broader ML governance ensures clear roles and responsibilities. This structure, often inspired by governance model examples, reduces bottlenecks, facilitates smoother communication, and ensures that machine learning models transition from development to deployment seamlessly.

Efficient governance translates to faster time-to-market, optimized resource usage, and streamlined workflows, all vital for a competitive edge.

How Do Algorithms Help With Model Governance?

Algorithms provide the tools and checks necessary to ensure that models are not just effective but also ethical, transparent, and compliant with the evolving industry standards. Here's how they help enhance model governance:

1. Automated Monitoring

Algorithms can continuously monitor machine learning models for drifts in data or performance. Doing so ensures models remain accurate and relevant, adhering to the established model governance framework.

2. Version Control

When models are updated or tweaked, algorithms assist in tracking these changes, ensuring that each version is documented and can be reverted if needed. This practice is foundational in ML model governance.

3. Regulatory Compliance

Through algorithms, automated checks can be established to ensure models operate within regulatory confines, a vital aspect of ML governance.

4. Bias Detection

Algorithms can scan models for unintended biases, ensuring fairness and transparency. This capability is crucial for maintaining trust in machine learning applications.

5. Operational Efficiency

By automating several governance tasks, algorithms facilitate smoother workflows within the team governance model, eliminating manual bottlenecks and speeding up processes.

6. Model Validation

Algorithms can validate the performance of newly developed models against predefined metrics, ensuring they meet organizational standards before deployment.

Top 3 Challenges and Risks Associated With ML Model Governance

Top 3 Challenges and Risks Associated With ML Model Governance

As ML models shape your pivotal business decisions, understanding the challenges and risks associated with their governance is paramount.

1. Model Drift

Model drift refers to the phenomenon where a model's performance deteriorates over time due to changes in the underlying data. For instance, a loan approval model trained on data from an economic boom might perform poorly during a recession.

Without an effective model governance system, detecting such drifts early is challenging, leading to suboptimal decisions that can significantly impact businesses.

2. Inconsistent Standards Across Teams

Inconsistencies can arise when multiple teams within an organization develop machine learning models without a unified model governance framework.

Imagine a scenario where two teams use different metrics for model evaluation, leading to varied interpretations of "success." Such inconsistencies can result in wasted resources and conflicting strategies, emphasizing the need for structured ML governance.

3. Regulatory Non-compliance

As ML models increasingly influence critical decisions in sectors like finance and healthcare, regulations have become stringent. Without rigorous machine learning model governance, there's a risk of violating these regulations.

Consider a healthcare prediction tool that inadvertently breaches patient confidentiality due to inadequate data handling practices. Such oversights can lead to severe penalties, reputational damage, and loss of trust among stakeholders.

Best Practices for Model Development

Best Practices for Model Development

When developing machine learning models, a systematic approach ensures optimal performance and robust model governance. Implementing best practices at each development phase is crucial. Let's delve into these practices:

1. Data Collection and Preprocessing

Ensure the data collected represents the problem domain and is free from biases.

For instance, in developing a facial recognition system, gather a diverse dataset encompassing various ethnicities, ages, and lighting conditions. Preprocess this data consistently, handling missing values and outliers, to ensure the model isn't trained on skewed or incomplete information.

2. Model Selection and Training

Choose a model that aligns with the problem type and dataset size. A deep learning model might seem appealing for a text classification task, but a simpler Naive Bayes classifier might suffice, given limited data. Regularly monitor the training process, adjusting hyperparameters as needed to avoid overfitting.

3. Validation and Testing

Separate your dataset into training, validation, and test sets. For example, in a recommendation engine, after training the model on user preferences, validate its recommendations using a distinct set of user data. This ensures the model generalizes well. Test the model under real-world conditions to assess its overall efficacy.

4. Documentation and Version Control

Document every step, from data sources to model configurations. If a model predicting stock prices was initially trained on five years of data but later updated with a decade's data, document this change.

Utilize model governance tools for version control, ensuring that any modifications to the model or its parameters are tracked, enabling seamless rollbacks and comparisons between versions.

5. Data Governance

Data governance involves the proper management of data availability, usability, integrity, and security. For example, when handling medical records for a healthcare predictive model, strict guidelines must be followed regarding data access, anonymization, and secure storage.

6. Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations include fairness, non-discrimination, and respect for privacy. When developing a job applicant screening tool, for instance, ensure the algorithm does not inadvertently favor or discriminate against candidates based on gender, ethnicity, or other non-job-related factors.

7. Transparency and Interpretability

In machine learning, transparency and interpretability are crucial for trust and efficacy, particularly in critical fields like healthcare. For a model designed to diagnose diseases, it's vital that healthcare professionals understand the model's decision-making process.

This clarity helps in validating the model's conclusions, builds trust in its diagnoses, and allows practitioners to integrate its insights with their clinical expertise, thereby enhancing patient care and outcomes.

8. Accountability and Responsibility

Establish clear accountability and responsibility for the model's outcomes. In a supply chain optimization model, delineate who is responsible for decision-making based on the model's recommendations and who is accountable for any errors.

9. Continuous Education and Training

Continuous education and training are vital in the rapidly evolving field of machine learning. Regular training sessions for data scientists and engineers are essential to keep up with the latest techniques and technologies.

This ongoing learning helps teams effectively implement cutting-edge solutions, ensuring their models remain relevant and effective.

10. Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is key in developing user-centric machine learning models. Involving end-users, like teachers and students in the case of an educational tool, ensures the final product aligns with their needs and preferences.

This collaboration fosters a more intuitive and effective solution tailored to the actual requirements of its users.

11. Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial for the long-term success of machine learning models. For example, an e-commerce recommendation engine must be capable of evolving in response to changing consumer behavior and feedback.

This adaptability ensures that the model remains relevant, accurate, and effective in delivering personalized recommendations in a dynamic market environment.

Future Trends and Challenges

A confluence of technological advancements and regulatory changes will shape the future of model governance. Here are the prominent trends and challenges you need to take care of:

1. Evolving Regulations and Standards

As industries increasingly integrate ML into their operations, regulatory bodies are developing more detailed standards to ensure ethical and responsible use. These evolving regulations require organizations to constantly adapt their Model Governance practices, ensuring compliance and maintaining stakeholder trust.

2. Advancements in AI and ML

The rapid pace of AI and ML innovations means models are becoming more sophisticated and multifaceted. This complexity necessitates enhanced model governance framework adaptations to effectively oversee, monitor, and validate these advanced models.

3. Potential Challenges in Implementing Governance Practices

Incorporating robust ML governance isn't without hurdles. Organizations might grapple with explaining intricate model decisions, integrating governance tools seamlessly, or training teams in new governance protocols, making the governance journey intricate yet essential.

Redefining Model Governance for the Future

The intricacies of Model Governance underscore its undeniable significance in the rapidly evolving world of AI and ML. As organizations grapple with intricate regulations, advanced model complexities, and implementation challenges, having a structured governance framework becomes paramount.

With platforms like MarkovML offering deep data insights, automated workflows, and tools for seamless collaboration, the future of model governance is not just about compliance but elevating enterprise operations. Leveraging such platforms can steer organizations toward more responsible, efficient, and impactful AI implementations.


1. What is the primary goal of model governance?

The primary goal of model governance is to establish a structured framework for developing, deploying, monitoring, and managing machine learning models. This ensures that models are transparent, accountable, consistent, and ethically sound, fostering trust and reliability in their predictions and decisions.

2. How does model governance impact organizations' compliance with regulations?

Model governance is crucial in ensuring that organizations adhere to regulatory standards. By implementing rigorous governance practices, organizations can track, validate, and document their ML models, ensuring they comply with industry-specific regulations, data privacy laws, and ethical guidelines.

3. What are some common challenges in implementing model governance?

Implementing model governance can present challenges like managing model drift over time, adhering to evolving regulatory standards, and ensuring consistency across multiple teams. Additionally, explaining complex model decisions and integrating robust governance tools seamlessly can pose hurdles for organizations.

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