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Data Stewards Bridge the Gaps

Martin Doyle June 18th, 2012 Data Quality, Master Data Management
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Sometimes the gaps between IT and other departments mean that data quality suffers. Everyone gets on with their work and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to talk to IT people – unless something goes wrong with their systems. They’re quick enough to pick up the phone when that happens though. And sometimes, if it’s a data problem, it could have been prevented if symptoms had been picked up at departmental level.
Bridge the Gaps with Data Stewards

That’s why you need a data steward in every department. It may not be a full time job, depending on the size of the business and the departments, but someone should have the responsibility. In a small business the responsibility might encompass several departments or disciplines. The individual will bridge the gap to IT and provide the interface needed. He or she can also interact with budget holders, senior managers and directors if a need for investment arises. Stewards will also serve on data governance committees.

What the Data Steward can do

The stewardship responsibilities might include the creation and upholding of the department’s standards and rules for its data, ensuring they are documented, together with any procedures in relation to the data collected and used in the department. Stewards will also have a monitoring role, to be much more likely to notice potential pitfalls and get them put right before they turn into serious problems. They can help eliminate any bad habits of staff members who don’t realise the serious consequences of bad data.

Select Them Carefully

So stewards need to have a certain amount of technical and data skills, but they also need good people skills and to be able to communicate effectively with people at all levels. Businesses and departments need to choose their data stewards with care.

Bridging the gaps to departments helps IT to ensure data accuracy, completeness and consistency. Bridging the gaps to senior levels helps IT to make data quality a priority across all departments.


Written by Martin Doyle

Martin is CEO and founder of DQ Global, a Data Quality Software company based in the UK. With an engineering background, Martin previously ran a CRM Software business. He has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and has established himself as a Data Quality Improvement Evangelist and an industry expert.