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Steps for Simple Data Stewardship

Steps for Simple Data Stewardship

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.


Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D.

Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise data management, data governance, enterprise data architecture and data warehousing. Dr. Smith is VP of Education and Chief Methodologist of Enterprise Warehousing Solutions, Inc. (EWS), a Chicago-based enterprise data management consultancy dedicated to providing clients with best-in-class solutions. Author of numerous articles and Fellow of the Institute for Information Management (IIM), Dr. Smith is also a well-known speaker in her areas of expertise at conferences and symposia.

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