Data Stewards – The Caretakers of Your Data
Data quality, data governance, purchased parts master data, and data credibility are just some of the things that we have talked about in our previous posts. While all of these are critical components of master data management, there is one other piece of the puzzle that needs to be discussed – the people handling the data. So let us know more about data stewards – the people who manage your data.
Who is a data steward?
The moniker ‘data steward’ is a new one and it has been described in a number of different ways. These are some of the definitions –
- Purdue University: “A Data Steward must participate with IT Data Administration staff, application development teams, and knowledgeable departmental staff on projects creating, maintaining, and using University data.”
- CDI-MDM: “Person responsible for managing the data in a corporation in terms of integrated, consistent definitions, structures, calculations, derivations, and so on.”
- The Data Administration Newsletter: “It is the Data Stewards’ responsibility to approve business naming standards, develop consistent data definitions, determine data aliases, develop standard calculations and derivations, document the business rules of the corporation, monitor the quality of the data in the data warehouse, define security requirements, and so forth.”12
While the definitions are varied, what we can understand from them is the fact that a data steward is someone who looks after the management and oversight of the data of an organization so that high-quality and reliable data is available easily and consistently to the business users.
Responsibilities of a data steward
Now that we know who a data steward is, it is easy to imagine that they are a very important part of an organization’s data management policy. Depending upon the size of an organization, there might be a number of stewards, each of whom is responsible for a particular type of master data. Here are some of the responsibilities that a data steward typically handles –
- Owning the data – The data steward is the ultimate owner of the particular data that he or she is responsible for. Of course, the data is a property of the enterprise, but the steward is the one that is responsible for it.
- Keeping the data clean – Clean data might mean different things to different organizations, but the critical role it plays in their growth is undisputed. The data steward is the one who makes sure that the data is always up to the required standards. They might not do the cleaning themselves, in fact many of them rely on automated systems to do the cleansing, but the responsibility is theirs.
- Keeping the data safe and secure – Data security concerns are ever present and any organization that is lax in this regard is bound to face unintended consequences. Making sure that the master data is safe is also the responsibility of the steward.
- Mapping business data needs – Better policies can be crafted by the data steward if they are in the know about the data needs of the organization. This limits the collection of unnecessary data and helps in compliance.
- Defining data-centric vendor requirements – This is also something that falls under the purview of the data steward and can help in minimizing spend and ensuring proper compliance.
These are just some of the most important responsibilities of a data steward. As the field of data management is an evolving one, this role too is evolving and it is possible that in the coming time, this list will change significantly.
With the heavy influx of data of all sorts, managing it has become a crucial part of any large organization’s strategy, and a proficient data steward can make sure that this happens smoothly. Apart from managing data, they should also be able to inculcate the importance of master data management in employees, get a buy-in from senior management about it, and ultimately strive to make it a part of the organization’s DNA.
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