Key Roles and responsibilities can belong to many people or one person can have many roles, it really depends on the size of your company as well as the culture. The ideal person to lead the Mindful Data Governance initiative is the Chief Data Officer (CDO) if one exists in your business, other wise select the best senior level employee that will be the ideal data evangelist to represent Data Governance and implement the Mindful Data Governance Initiative. Remember Data Governance is a team effort but the roles of each of the other members of the data governance teams are different but interdependent on each other. If you think of the roles of data governance as positions on a soccer team, it is great to know who are the strikers, midfielders, defenders, and the goal keeper so the team is unified but everyone has a different role to play in the team. I do want you to remember when implementing the Mindful Data Governance Initiative that their is no title changes for the employees that are assigned to these roles as the responsibilities. These responsibilities should not take up much of the employee’s time and become part of the ever day life and culture.

Data Steward
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. (Domain = Data that is collected within their subject area).

Specific Accountabilities:

  • Implement data standards.
  • Ensure that staff who maintain data are trained to follow standards.
  • Monitor data quality.
  • Work with technical and operational staff to create a process for identifying data entry errors and correcting the data to match business standards.
  • Report to the data owner any issues that may require larger action on behalf of the business’s data governance structure.
  • Handle inquiries about data.
  • Receive and respond to any inquiries related to data that originates from the area they oversee; e.g., questions regarding access, standardization, organization, definition and usage, etc.

Data Owner
A Data Owner is concerned with risk and appropriate access to data. In comparing these two roles, often the data steward doesn’t care who uses the data as long as they use it correctly. Often the steward wants a lot of people to use the data! An owner, however, is concerned with who can access data, and tends to be more conservative with granting access. There is a natural conflict between these two roles, but in some organizations the same person plays both roles.

Specific Accountabilities:

  • Approve data Glossaries and other data definitions
  • Ensure the accuracy of information as used across the Enterprise
  • Direct Data Quality activities
  • Review and Approve Master Data Management approach, outcomes, and activities
  • Work with other Data Owners to resolve data issues and lack of harmony across business units
  • Second level review for issues identified by Data Stewards
  • Provide input to the Data Governance team on software solutions, policies or Regulatory Requirements that impact their data domain

Data Custodian
Data Custodian manages the actual data. This role manages servers, backups, or networks. This role may provision access per the data owner’s rules, and this role has mastery of a data schema and lineage. In comparison with steward and owner, a custodian has little knowledge of the types of decisions that are made using the data. In other words, a custodian knows exactly where data is located but does not know how to correctly use it.

Specific Accountabilities:

  • Provide a secure infrastructure in support of the data.
  • This includes, but is not limited to, physical security, backup and recovery processes, and secure transmission of the data.
  • Implement data access policies.
  • Grant access privileges to authorized system users, documenting those with access and controlling level of access to ensure that individuals have access only to that information for which they have been authorized and that access is removed in a timely fashion when no longer needed.
  • Ensure system availability and adequate response time.
  • Install, configure, patch, and upgrade hardware and software used for data management, ensuring that system availability and response time are maintained in accordance with university policies and/or service level agreements.
  • Participate in setting data governance priorities.
  • Provide details on technical, systems, and staffing requirements related to data governance initiatives.

We used the above labels to identify the roles and responsibilities of the team members of the data governance but these labels can be changed to fit your business better. The important part here is the understanding that there is a specific responsibility for each of the roles no matter how you label it. These three roles take up the majority of the work for data governance so having a clear definition will help the person that is assigned to this role exactly what their responsibility is. In smaller businesses, the same person may play all three roles. Even in large business, sometimes the steward and the owner are the same person. Because of the particular nature of each role, it is helpful to articulate each role even if they are assigned to a single person. Each role makes particular types of decisions and brings a particular perspective and skill set to governance work.

Putting each of these roles descriptions down on paper and personally communicating that roles responsibility to the individual, will help that individual perform the role successfully. Formally assigning roles makes it easier for colleagues to approach an individual playing a particular role and ask for assistance.

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