Data Ownership Considerations

FEA01x - edited feature imageThe currency of a data governance initiative is the data that will be involved in developing the appropriate operating framework for your organization.

The point of implementing data governance is to enable an enterprise to readily access and use the information that makes their business run in a coherent and collective manner. Communication between diverse corporate groups is enhanced through data governance.

The ability to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements is another important benefit of instituting a structured data governance team.

There are a number of distinct levels in a data governance hierarchy which interact to implement a robust system.

The Data Governance Organization

There are a number of specific roles which need to be filled when establishing a data governance program. Filling these positions with the appropriate personnel can be instrumental in the success of your initiative. A high-level view of these roles identifies three main components of your data governance team.

  • The Steering Committee – This committee is made up of a company’s top-level executives. They are often the Vice Presidents responsible for a particular business data domain such as that pertaining to customers, vendors, or products. These individuals are responsible for determining the overriding strategy and defining the goals of the program. They work to facilitate the job of data stewards and set guidelines concerning the timelines and deliverables of the plan.
  • Data Owners – A data owner is responsible for the data in a particular data domain. They may belong to the steering committee and ensure that the data under their purview is governed throughout the organization. Data owners approve data glossaries and definitions as well as initiate data quality activities. They provide a platform from which to review issues found by data stewards. The steering committee relies on the data owners for suggestions revolving around policies, regulatory requirements, and software solutions pertinent to their data domain.
  • Data Stewards – This role is filled by subject matter experts who are responsible for the daily management of data. Data stewards form the governing body that makes decisions and resolves issues regarding the organization’s data. They communicate closely with data owners to keep them apprised of activities or decisions that affect their data domain. A primary responsibility of data stewards is to work across lines of business to confirm that data is managed consistently and is understood throughout the enterprise.

The Importance of Choosing the Correct Data Owners

Data owners need to be well-versed in the data domain for which they are responsible. Answering the question of who owns the data in an enterprise can be a complicated question. Theoretically, a company’s data is a shared resource with no individual owner. For that reason, some organizations shy away from using the term “Data owner” when developing their data governance program.

The problem with this mindset is that without a designated individual or team assigned to the data owner’s role there will be a gap in accountability in the data governance program. There has to be an entity which assumes responsibility for the data definitions that are used for governance as well as defining the policies that will guide the data’s usage throughout the organization.

The role of data owner should not be confused with the data steward. Initially, you may be tempted to assign data ownership roles to your IT department since they work with the data in question. But your technical people are better suited to filling the role of data steward and focusing on the day-to-day management of the company’s digital assets.

Making the right choice in data owners will ease the transition into a functional data governance implementation. Individuals filling this role need to understand the information that makes up the data domain as well as the business value of that data. They need to have a firm grasp of how the data needs to be used for compliance purposes and be able to communicate those requirements to both the steering committee and the data stewards who manage it.

This feature was written by Robert Agar and appeared as a blog on the website.

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Joy Ruff

Joy Ruff

Joyce Ruff is a Product Marketing Manager for data architecture and database tools at IDERA Software, based in Austin, Texas. With over 25 years of industry experience with enterprise hardware and software solutions, Joy enjoys sharing product benefits with customers through social media, presentations, and conferences.

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