Overcoming the Biggest Roadblock to Data Stewardship Success

By Kerry Young on Mar 19, 2019

With the importance of data governance on the rise, data stewards may be the unsung heroes of your organization. What are you doing to support them?

In this blog article, we’ll discuss the biggest roadblock data stewards face, and the tools and technology you can use to help them succeed in their evolving role.

What Should Data Stewards Focus On?

Simply put, data stewards operationalize data governance within their organization. Stewards are often assigned from various sides of the business and can hold a number of actual titles within their department; being a data steward is not typically a full-time job.

The data set for which a data steward focuses on varies based on their organization’s structure. As the Data Governance Institute puts it, “Data Stewards represent the concerns of others. Some may represent the needs of the entire organization. Others may be tasked with representing a smaller constituency: a business unit, department, or even a set of data themselves.”

Businesses use data stewards to reduce risk; define and improve data policies and processes; improve data documentation; define data-related roles and responsibilities; perform various data analytics; remediate data issues; and much more. They are assigned specialized access to sensitive data assets along with accountability to drive the success of data governance efforts.

Their Biggest Roadblock

Considering the mounting regulations around data use, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data stewardship is increasingly critical for enforcing the data quality and governance necessary for compliance.

Unfortunately, data stewards face a major roadblock to success – a lack of tangible support and tools for their roles. Stewards are often sidetracked from their day-to-day duties and are thrown into the task without adequate resources to back them up. The Data Administration Newsletter explains, “When we designate busy people as data stewards without making time for them to do stewardship work, we should not expect high-impact results. Nor should we expect success without training stewards about roles, relationships, and accountabilities related to data.”

What Do Data Stewards Need for Success?

Data stewards clearly have a critical responsibility within an organization. So, how can you help your data stewards succeed?

Regardless of the data set to which stewards are assigned, data stewards should have the tools to accomplish the following tasks:  

  • Documenting rules and standards
  • Managing metadata
  • Tackling data quality issues
  • Setting and managing guidelines around data
  • Tracking performance and regulatory compliance
  • Reducing risk regarding data security and privacy
  • Defining processes, policies, and roles

To accomplish these tasks, they need training, support, and technical tools.

The Best Tools for Data Stewardship Support

Stewardship is closely tied to your organization’s overall data management, data quality, and data governance initiatives. Therefore, organizations are turning to Master Data Management (MDM) solutions to help them to thrive in their assignment.

While an MDM system establishes safeguards to prevent data inconsistencies, data stewards still require the ability to manually resolve data issues. Data stewards that lack the proper tools often become frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed; however, MDM can help make their job more efficient and effective.

For example, EnterWorks MDM supports stewards with data stewardship policy and procedure enablement. Our Enable™ MDM solution includes tools that help:

  • Provide data stewards with a customizable workspace that displays tasks only assigned to them.
  • Create data governance policies and workflows to automate the approval process.
  • Take advantage of built-in algorithms for matching and linking, including survivorship rules.
  • Monitor stewardship processes with advance logging and audit trails.
  • Provide data stewards with the capability to update their data categories simultaneously yet independent of each other, helping the data to move closer to completeness for quicker.

Keep in mind, stewards are part of a bigger picture for successful master data management that includes data governance, data quality, and data stewardship. You can learn more about combining these three essential components with our free e-book, 4 Keys to Unlocking Data Quality with MDM. And, to learn even more about EnterWorks MDM with Data Stewardship solution, download our Data Governance & Stewardship Solution Overview.


About the author

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.

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