Why You Need a Data Steward and Best Practices to Do it Right
You have data —lots of it. But instead of the holy grail of usable customer intel that marketing, sales, and service teams expect, your people often find themselves dealing with messy and unreliable data sitting in multiple databases, platforms, and even spreadsheets.
Data piles up with differing sets of definitions or identifiers. One platform’s “UID” can be another platform’s “CID.” Inconsistent mapping causes confusion, and it doesn’t allow the platforms to communicate with each other. Everyone ends up sending messages to customers based off their platform’s data, which could be incomplete or inaccurate.
The question becomes: How can your entire organization make the most out of the data—consistently, accurately, and safely—to make smarter business decisions each day?
That’s where a data governance program comes into play—and data stewards step in to ensure the business keeps up with principles and rules of the program. You can get a complimentary copy of our new eBook Data Governance is Mission Critical (see below) or check out our first blog in this series and learn how to Get Ahead of New Data Privacy Laws With a Data Governance Program.
What is a data steward?
The data steward has become an invaluable asset to companies looking to manage their data better.
Data stewardship is a functional role in data management and governance, with responsibility for ensuring that data policies and standards turn into practice within the steward’s domain. Data stewards assist the enterprise in leveraging domain data assets to full capacity.
Kevin Shannon, Global Head of Enterprise Data Governance at Dun & Bradstreet, explains the role of a data steward and why it is crucial to the success of an enterprise data governance strategy.
Data stewards fill an ever-evolving role as expectations of enterprise data governance get more complex around the world. As the volume, velocity, and variety of data increase—so will the need for more of these data experts.
The data steward can wear multiple hats that serve a specific organization’s needs—at times requiring multiple data stewards to cover multiple domains or business unites.
They’re often seen as the:
- Go-to experts for the company with anything in the realm of data; responsible for assuring quality and trust in the data, creating standard definitions for the organization to follow, and maintaining a consistent use of data resources across the organization
- Trusted resources who keeps the company adhering to changing data laws locally, regionally, and nationally to avoid penalties or fines
- Advocates and thought leaders of data, educating employees and keeping a pulse on new best practices and technology
Why are data stewards so important?
They are the ones, stealthily working in the background, building systems that make sure the information within your business stays accurate and up to date, ultimately improving efficiencies.
They are the face to a company’s data management. This fosters a sense of security and trust for the data with employees, as data stewards build a more data-focused culture and advocate for the proper use of and attention to data.
Over time, with strong data stewards in place, employees start consistently making more use out of their data to do better in their jobs.
Fewer errors occur. The right customers get contacted. The leads with the highest potential of closing are prioritized first.
The benefits can add up quickly. Though for some companies, the immediate need for a data steward can be unclear, as the hard ROI value of the data itself is not easily quantifiable.
What do data stewards do?
Data stewards carry out six key responsibilities, that otherwise would be overlooked in a data governance program:
- Define the data and identify assets within their own data domains. This ensures there isn’t conflict with other data elements.
- Create processes and procedures along with access controls to monitor adherence. This includes establishing internal policies and standards—and enforcing those policies.
- Maintain quality of the data using customer feedback, concerns, questions; internally reporting metrics; evaluating and identifying issues; and coordinating and implementing corrections regularly.
- Optimize workflows and communications.
- Monitor data usage to assist teams, share best practice trends in data use, and provide insight into how and where teams can use data to help in day-to-day decision-making.
- Ensure compliance and security of the data. Data stewards are responsible for protecting the data—while providing information on potential risks and offering regulatory guidance.
Starting a Data Governance Program this year?
Take one easy step right now. In this new eBook, Data Governance is Mission Critical, see how you can gain deeper control over your data, understand where it’s sourced, and monitor and use the data successfully while staying compliant.