Few organizations have all the technical and functional data stewards in place to handle the ever-increasing data-related questions and requests. Therefore, a search for new data stewards is probably always happening. This blog post will discuss how you can get data stewardship acceptance by an individual.
In an organization where a data steward role does not exist yet or data steward roles that do not have people assigned or trained yet, data-related requests or questions should be routed to first tier support or a data governance oversight group. And they can take those requests or questions, attempt to answer them themselves, or go and find a subject matter expert and pull them in to assist.
Suppose the person or group get a question from a guy named Brian on how we are defining original hire date for an employee. They do not know the answer, but they know someone who does. How should they approach this knowledgeable person? How about the following: “Can you help us? You are so smart, you are such a brilliant person in our HR team, and everyone looks to you for guidance. We would love to have you provide your expertise.” Hopefully, that person will say they are glad to help and here is how we define original hire date for an employee. Our suggestion is for the person or group getting the initial request and passing along the answer to say to that HR person, “Brian was so happy to get your answer. Would you be in interested or available if there are other questions around your expertise in HR to help with this?” Hopefully, that HR person would reply, “Yeah, I’m sure I would.” The group should officially acknowledge the HR person’s expertise by making them an official data steward for HR data. And that HR person would be excited because they have helped engage with someone who needed information and they understand the purpose and value of why they are doing the data governance assistance.
And compare that experience to that HR person being asked by a data governance group, “I need you to write 50 definitions for things that you think people are going to ask about.” That HR person would say, “I’m too busy for this nonsense. Why do I want to do that?” The group did not get the HR person’s acceptance and they are not going to use the data governance system in place. Handling just-in-time requests and taking a customer service approach to data governance greatly improves the data steward’s experience of interacting with data governance content and creating content. They can see directly how it applies to the goals of data governance, and why doing data governance is beneficial. For example, you are going to get better glossary definitions if you are doing it in real world applications, as opposed to being hypothetical. That kind of experience of applying the help desk model to data governance is a really great way to think about this. And if you can create content without data steward involvement, such as automated or batch import, that will aid folks in searching for information. And then have the data stewards do the curation and handling of new requests to create content. We really recommend that, rather than asking that HR person, “Can you write 20 glossary definitions?”, say, “Hey, can you look at your 10 most used reports or kind of questions that you get asked and the information that you share and document those?” And as part of doing that, you will get emergent glossary definitions, or other things documented around that. And the person can see that this will save them time in the long run.
We hope that this blog posts assists in getting new data stewards involved in data governance content creation and the handling of data requests. Have them handle the new requests for information and not have them go back in time to document old reports. Or just document the most critical reports.