Data Stewardship focuses on “formalizing accountability for the management of data and data processes.” The “accountability for data” part of that definition is easily understood and is agreed
upon as being “corporate-critical”. Companies typically question what is meant by “formalize”, which is interpreted as building the processes, tools, and discipline necessary to make the
stewardship program function. The next and often more important question is “what does it cost and what is my expected return financially and in business value of implementing a data stewardship
The cost and value of building a data stewardship program varies from company to company. When implementing true discipline and accountability around the management of data, it is important to
follow a pragmatic and practical approach that focuses on keeping the financial investment in stewardship as low as possible by formalizing and improving existing accountability, through education
and knowledge transfer of proven best practices, through improvement of communications, and through the development of low-cost internally developed processes and tools.
The business value of data stewardship typically focuses on increasing company revenues and/or reducing business process or technology costs. The increase of revenue can be quantified by analyzing
product/service quality and time-to-market, value of good decision making versus the cost of bad decision making, customer intimacy and customer/market retention, as well as other business value
measures that can be attributed to improvements in the accountability for data assets. This is a difficult aspect of business value – attributing business success to formalized accountability for
The reduction of costs can be associated with many measurable aspects of the business. This includes, but is not limited to, the reduction of business core process costs, the management/elimination
of redundant data/information, the reduction of product/service and application development/data integration/package implementation costs, and the reduction of human resource costs.
Responsible organizations now recognize that compliance to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) will involve data stewardship and governance that controls how data is generated, manipulated, recorded and
reported. These sets of rules include formalized accountability for data management and integration. The business value of data stewardship is viewed as insurance, driven by financial reporting,
data integration, accounting needs and the audit-ability of data and data focused processes. Failure to comply to the S-Ox Act potentially means multimillion-dollar fines, ruined reputations and
the possibility of legal implications and jail time for top executives.
As a last and perhaps most essential statement of business value, Gartner Group stated in a Data Stewardship Research Note (Feb/2003) that “poor data quality is a significant inhibitor to the
success of strategic initiatives.” Gartner went on to state that it is “impossible to generate business value from customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence (BI), or any
effort requiring significant integration of data” without a focus on data quality through optimal stewarding of critical business data and processes. Since articulating the value of data
stewardship alone is difficult, the industry analysts focus on the business value of the projects that are supported by enterprise data management and data stewardship efforts. They tell their
clients to evaluate the business value of those data focused projects and recognize that this value will not be realized without the data stewardship component of data management.