Data Stewards & Data Governance

A Data Governance team banks on its credibility to effectively handle data and ensure that the quality of data is flawless.  These responsibilities aren’t easy to perform, hence the need to make use of Data Stewards.   Data come from many sources – in the form of internal and external customers as well as 3rd party vendors and providers.  The amount of data gathered from all of these sources can very quickly become overwhelming.  This is where the role of the Data Stewards come into play.  Data Stewards are usually people that assume collateral duties of managing data in addition to their other roles (which could be doing any other types of tasks anywhere in the enterprise).

In some cases, the Data Stewardship group within an organization is composed of the Data Stakeholders themselves.  These Data Stewards ensure that data-related decisions are carried out in a way that doesn’t conflict with another person or entity within the organization.   Aside from technical skills, a Data Steward should also have a clear, crisp way of communicating issues and ideas and will be responsible for ensuring that any ambiguities in the data are removed.

Responsibilities of a Data Steward include:

  1. Data Stewards must see to it that the data being carried out doesn’t overlap any existing, contradicting data within the organization
  2. Data Stewards are always on the look out for possible errors in the structure.
  3. Data Stewards must help ensure that the data is error-free.
  4. Data warehousing is one of the key roles of a Data Steward.
  5. Data Stewards ensure consistency of data. They maybe one level below the Data Governance board, but these stewards also play a big role in data decision-making.

In a large enterprise, it is not sufficient that a single Data Steward is employed.   It usually takes a team of experts in their respective fields to come up with a successful Data Stewardship council.

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Data Stakeholders

Who are considered Data Stakeholders? Data Stakeholders can be individuals, groups, or departments within an organization that have direct or indirect use of the data structures.  Data Stakeholders are often comprised of people from departments such as IT, Quality Assurance, Marketing, Operations, etc.  These are generally the same set of people who gather the data, compile the data, track updates about the data and ensure that the data are compliant to the focus of the business.

An effective Data Governance team must know which Data Stakeholders to get in contact with depending on what type of data they need or are working on.  For example, if a company needs to know the current market trends and behavior, the Data Governance team should be able to identify at first brush that they need to get a hold of a representative from the Marketing department. If data about providing quality customer service is needed, then they need to get in contact with someone from the Quality Assurance department and so on and so forth.

Since this is the case, it is the responsibility of the Data Governance board to identify specific Points-of-Contact (POCs) from each of these departments for when there is a need to change and update people across the board. It is tedious to speak to everyone in the department to find the right POC, so it is extremely beneficial that an identified representative from each department be present when there is a Data Governance meeting.

Data Stakeholders can take either an active or a passive stand when it comes to these matters but it is best to get them involved in the decision-making process in some capacity.  We have to make these people understand how the business works, how the data within the business works and how it affects the department and the company as a whole if the data calls don’t go to the correct channels.