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Organizations should be aware that there are some simple steps for successful data stewardship

Never before has the management of data been so important to organizations.  Gartner estimates that about 25% of all development and enhancement efforts fail due to a lack of metadata or business requirement clarity.  How companies manage their requirements gathering is integral to their system development and project management methodologies – and shows the need for effective data governance.

Data Stewardship Simple Process

To be successful, business data stewards should follow these steps in a simple process:

  • Participate in the development of the business case and assist in identifying potential impact for the business by gathering the right amount of detail at each stage of the project.
  • Work with data and business analysts to describe each requirement and data object appropriately.
  • Ensure ALL data-related contingencies and variables are considered for the business processes.
  • Find and document the areas where a business decision must be made by a stakeholder to define scope.
  • Participate in managing scope creep and focusing on managing the needed data, metadata and business processes for a project.

To be useful, a process should be as simple as possible without losing any capabilities.  For some projects, data stewardship will be more complex than this simple set of steps implies.  However, it is possible to maintain a level of simplicity while continuing to instill rigor into the data stewardship effort.

Keep it SIMPLE: Unless the root process is simple, stewards will not acquire a sense of how they can contribute.  Each data stewardship session should last for one hour, and the business and data analysts should ensure that each session is productive.

Focus on the BUSINESS USER: Stewards should maintain their business focus, to be engaged and feel that their decisions and input were captured as part of the initiative.  Business Events should be described in business language, to partition requirements into distinct data and process units that can each be analyzed by smaller steward teams with the participation of additional subject matter experts from the user community where appropriate.

Quickly document and ORGANIZE INFORMATION: To ensure clarity and control scope the stewardship facilitators must collect all data and the appropriate metadata.  To communicate with systems architects and developers, business analysts should work with the stewards to develop data models and process flow to document how processes will operate and the data they will use.  With this information documented and centrally available, the goal of reusability can be achieved, making subsequent sessions and later projects simpler.

Focus on the “WHAT” rather than the “HOW” in managing project stewardship.  The governance program should devote its attention to the processes needed for data governance and stewardship, thus allowing the project stewards and their teams to concentrate on the activities that will provide project-appropriate value.  Many stewardship teams spend an inordinate amount of time on the mechanics of stewardship, thereby reducing the amount of time available to “be” stewards.


Remember, for a process to be successful, it must be embraced.  Maintaining the interest and attention of the project data stewards requires vigilance and the continual socialization of the “keep it simple” approach.


Dr. David P. Marco, LinkedIn Top BI Voice, IDMMA Data Mgt. Professional of the Year, Fellow IIM, CBIP, CDP

Dr. David P. Marco, PhD, Fellow IIM, CBIP, CDP is best known as the world’s foremost authority on data governance and metadata management, he is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of CDO, data management, data literacy, and advanced analytics. He has earned many industry honors, including Crain’s Chicago Business “Top 40 Under 40”, named by DePaul University as one of their “Top 14 Alumni Under 40”, and he is a Professional Fellow in the Institute of Information Management. In 2022, CDO Magazine named Dr. Marco one of the Top Data Consultants in North America and IDMMA named him their Data Management Professional of the Year. In 2023 he earned LinkedIn’s Top BI Voice. Dr. Marco won the prestigious BIG Innovation award in 2024. David Marco is the author of the widely acclaimed two top-selling books in metadata management history, “Universal Meta Data Models” and “Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository” (available in multiple languages). In addition, he is a co- author of numerous books and published hundreds of articles, some of which are translated into Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, and others. He has taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University.

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