Understand the role and responsibilities of a Data Steward and succeed appointing the right one(s) for the job.
In this article we explain what a Data Steward is, the role and the tasks.
What is a Data Steward?
Data stewards coordinate and implement your governance policies. They hold the responsibility of overseeing data sets to keep them in order and are often accountable for correcting incongruities and errors as they occur.
To be clear, data stewardship is not a purely technical or business role -- it requires a strong combination of both skill sets. To perform well as a data steward, hard skills such as programming and data modeling are often paired with domain expertise like data warehousing, enterprise strategy, and storage concepts.
Needless to say, to function well in the role communication and collaboration skills are also a necessity, not the least because a data steward does not work in isolation. It is a central role that involves interactions with data specialists, architects, and developers.
In addition, expertise in data quality and data profiling tools is central to the task.
Data Stewards are not data analysts
To be clear, data stewards are not data analysts. Although the two are required to work closely together, data stewards safeguard the consistency, accuracy, and availability of the information that data analysts work with. In doing this, they ensure that the data providing the insights that guide your organizational decisions is trustworthy.
The Responsibilities of a Data Steward
For the most part, the role of a data steward is about accountability. Depending on the size of your organization, data stewardship involves placing an individual or team in place responsible for the following:
Administering your data lifecycle - enforcing policies established by the governance and steering committees determining how long data is kept.
Monitoring and maintaining data quality - detecting data quality issues by establishing QC metrics and proactively correcting anomalies.
Overseeing data security - implementing and monitoring controls to maintain governance standards that include legal compliance and regulatory obligations and risk management best practices.
Regulating data access - ensuring timely authorized use of data in accordance with the organization’s strategic needs while maintaining its confidentiality and integrity.
Advocating data use cases - promoting the implementation of new strategic uses for data within the business, especially in companies with more mature data management programs.
To accomplish this a data steward needs to work closely with your organization’s data owners - typically senior management and departmental leads - to identify the data their functions require, how that data will be utilized, and how the data they receive addresses the organization’s goals irrespective of its origins.
An effective data governance and data stewardship program ensures that your data remains secure and compliant with government regulations surrounding privacy and other issues.