Everybody in the organization is a data steward and we need to JUST BELIEVE IT and GET OVER THAT FACT. Everybody in the organization that has a relationship to data must be held formally accountable for that relationship. And almost everybody, if not everybody, has a relationship to data.
What do I mean by a “relationship to data”? For data governance to be successful …
— People in your organization that define data as part of their job must be held formally accountable for how they define data.
— People that produce data must be held formally accountable for the data they produce.
— People that use data must be held accountable for how they use the data. It is as simple as that. It’s all in the data.
Data Definers are the people in your organization that have responsibility for data that is defined through data integration efforts, enterprise transformation efforts, business intelligence, and new system development efforts. Data Definers are the people that purchase data and introduce big data and unstructured data into your environment. Data Definers are the people that have the knowledge about the data, and they are often referred to as the “Data Owners” (sic).
The people that define data must have the responsibility of providing high-quality definitions (in metadata) of the data they are defining. These people must be responsible for checking to see if the data they are defining already exists somewhere else in the organization before purchasing or developing more “new” and different data. These people must be responsible for improving how data is defined in the organization and should be involved in architecting a long-term data definition solution.
To improve the way your organization governs its data includes formalizing the accountability of the people that define data as part of their job. If you define data, you are a steward of data definition.
Data Producers are people that are on the front lines of your organization, that enter data into your systems. These people are often customer-facing. Or, they transcribe data from forms and instruments as it enters the data ecosystem of your organization. The Data Producers control the instruments that are used for physical data production if that data is produced from within the organization or if that data is produced by an outside source.
The people that produce data for your organization must have the responsibility of assuring the quality of the data they produce. This means that the Data Producers must understand how the data is defined, so that they can follow definitional guidelines and standards. This means that the Data Producers must understand how the data they produce will be used. Data Producers play a critical role in maintaining and improving the quality of the organization’s data.
To improve the way your organization governs its data includes formalizing the accountability of the people that produce data as part of their job. If you produce data, you are a steward of data production.
The action of using data is perhaps the easiest to describe.
Very simply stated, Data Users are people in your organization that consume or use data as part of their job. The first thing you are thinking is that everybody uses data in some way. This is true. Data Users include people that request and use data on reports to make decisions. Data Users are people that analyze and assess the organization’s operations based on data they receive through a variety of channels. Data Users are a creative lot that are always looking for better ways to use the data to complete their job function.
It is easy to convince management that all Data Users must have formal accountability for following all the compliance and privacy rules imposed on the organization for controlled and sensitive data. For Data Governance to be successful, Data Definers and Data Producers must also know and follow these rules. Therefore, Data Governance programs must focus on making certain that the definers, producers, and users all know and follow the rules. Data Governance must cover everybody that uses data.
Also, the people that use data must have the formal accountability of working with Data Definers and Data Producers to improve the quality, reduce risk, and thus improve the value of the organization’s data.
To improve that way your organization governs its data includes formalizing the accountability of the people that use data as part of their job. If you use data, you are a steward of data usage.
Everybody is a Data Steward
Considering the idea that “Everybody is a Data Steward” is a new way of looking at Data Stewardship and Data Governance. People have been known to push back on this idea and say, “If everybody is a Data Steward, then nobody is a Data Steward” and they believe that my approach to stewardship dilutes any possibility of Data Governance success. They use this line the same way they talk about priorities.
The truth is that their rebuttal makes no sense.
The fact that everybody is a data steward provides complete and absolute coverage of all the people that must be held formally accountable for your data. Organizations must first inventory and record how people are related to the data, and design their Data Governance Programs to address the idea that everybody in the organization is a steward of the data. It’s all in the data.