Data Steward and Data Custodian Definitions

Of all the posts on my blog, the one that draws the most interest is my humorous story about the definition of data steward and data custodian. Commonly, people find it while looking for a good definition and list of responsibilities for a data steward or data custodian. The following is being posted to help answer that question.

These definitions and lists of responsibilities evolved over time while interacting with experts from a variety of companies. One caveat, these are job functions not job titles. The focus is on what someone does as part of their daily work. In some instances someone may be both a Data Custodian and a Data Steward. The responsibilities represent the collection of actions taken by someone fulfilling these functions.  Normally, they have job titles such as Business Analyst, Functional Analyst, Data Analyst, Data Base Administrator, Data Modeler, and so on….

Use them and help evolve them….

Here are the definitions:

1.1       Universal Data Steward and Data Custodian Responsibilities

Core to the governance of company data and supporting data systems are the Data Steward and Data Custodian roles. These are the people on the front line charged with sustaining our data environment. To that end, the following are universal responsibilities shared in common by all Data Stewards and Data Custodians and support standardized data management practices.

  1. Adhere to company data management policies and standards
  2. Establish and participate in Escalation and Arbitration process
  3. Participate in Data Governance training
  4. Re-direct requests for data access to the appropriate Data Steward to promote reuse
  5. Assist in Data Governance audits when required
  6. Participate in Data Governance gap analysis when required

1.2       Data Steward Responsibilities

The Data Steward role focuses on managing data content and the business logic behind all data transformations. Typically, stewardship occurs at the point of entry within the source application, at the point of transformation, and at the point of consumption. Additionally, there are some Data Stewards that operate in the subject area domains such as hierarchy reference data.

Actions at each of those locations impact the meaning, or the interpretation of the data. Data Stewards collaborate with the Data Custodians to implement data transformations, resolve data issues, and collaborate on system changes. To ensure good continuity and data quality, the following activities are the essential minimum requirements for Data Stewards.

  1. Responsibilities for all Data Stewards
    1. Data Quality Control Activities
      1. Define data quality metrics and validation rules
      2. Perform data validation and monitoring
      3. Utilize standard data profiling tools and processes
    2. Coordinate with other Data Stewards for enterprise Data Stewardship needs.
    3. When needed, create and submit new policies or standards for ensuring appropriate data entry, usage and transformation
    4. Define data validation and reconciliation processes to be conducted by the Data Custodians following completion of data movement (e.g. validating and reconciling all data movements into the GL)
    5. Conduct validation of data content following data movement
  2. Data Stewards for Point of Data Entry
    1. Define, capture and maintain business metadata (for example, Business Definitions and valid values)
    2. Set access requirements for the data provided to the data repository.
    3. Approve provisioning requests for access to source data.
  3. Data Stewards over Business Rules and Data Transformations
    1. Redirect provisioning requests for source data to appropriate steward.
    2. Maintain transformation business logic as approved by process steward
    3. Implement transformations as close to the source as possible
  4. Data Stewards at Point of Data Consumption
    1. Direct consumers to data repository or data warehouse, do not become an data source for duplicate data
    2. Report data quality errors
    3. Coordinate with other Data Stewards for enterprise Data Stewardship needs.

1.3       Data Custodian Responsibilities

Primarily Data Custodians oversee the safe transport and storage of data. While content is important to them, their focus is on the underlying infrastructure and activities required to keep the data intact and available to users. They collaborate with the Data Stewards to implement data transformations, resolve data issues, and collaborate on system changes. To ensure good continuity and data quality the following activities are essential and the minimum requirements for Data Custodians.

  1. Responsibilities for all Data Custodians
    1. Assist Data Stewards and other Data Custodians in researching data issues and inquiries
    2. Guide Data Stewards in establishing escalation processes
    3. Identify Data Stewards
    4. Implement data transformations, resolve data issues, and collaborate on system changes
    5. Document all data movements and record in designated repositories
    6. Conduct data validation and reconciliation processes following completion of data movement as specified by the Data Stewards (e.g. validating and reconciling all data movements into the GL)
  2. Source Level
    1. Provide source data, or access to source data, in support of data repository SLA
    2. Provide data repository team with appropriate communication of issues with delivery or quality of source data
    3. Partner with data repository team to establish process to request changes to data source feed(s)
    4. Participate in data repository release planning process
  3. Data Repository Level
    1. Provide Source team with appropriate communication of issues with delivery or quality of source data
    2. Define, capture and maintain technical metadata
    3. Utilize the available tools to store metadata
  4. Provisioned Data Custodian
    1. Identify Data Stewards consuming the data
    2. Provide Source team with appropriate communication of issues with delivery or quality of source data

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Thanks for stopping by. My writing is intended to take a lighter look at Data Governance, and toss in some pragmatic advice along the way.  If you are interested in more information on how to implement Data Governance in your organization, please contact me via LinkedIn or the email address below.

Regards,
Tom Jesionowski

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