The Crucial Role of Data Stewardship in Fortifying Data Governance: A Comprehensive Overview

By Subeer Sehgal, Principal Consultant, Fractal

In the rapidly evolving landscape of data-driven enterprises, the efficacy of data governance hinges significantly on the principles and practices of data stewardship. In essence, data stewardship acts as the bedrock upon which robust data governance strategies are built. As organizations grapple with vast amounts of data and navigate complex regulatory landscapes, the role of data stewardship emerges as pivotal in ensuring data integrity, security, compliance, and ethical use.

Understanding Data Stewardship

Data stewardship refers to the responsibility, management, and oversight of data assets within an organization. Data stewards are entrusted with the task of ensuring that data is handled in a manner that aligns with organizational policies, industry standards, and regulatory requirements. They play a crucial role in bridging the gap between business needs and technical implementations, acting as custodians who oversee data throughout its lifecycle.

How does a Day-in-the-Life of Data Steward look like?

A Data Steward is an individual or a role within an organization who is responsible for managing, maintaining, and ensuring the quality, security, and proper utilization of the organization’s data assets. The primary focus of a Data Steward is to ensure that data is accurate, consistent, compliant with regulations, and aligned with the organization’s strategic goals

What are his/her responsibilities

  • Manages and improves quality of data assets
  • Supports the Data Owner in implementing policies across the organization
  • Ensures data is consistently defined across the organization
  • Provides functional expertise to identify critical data elements, document business glossary, business rules and enable data lineage
  • Provides expertise in creating DQ rules and acceptable thresholds for assessment
  • Works with the Technical team to ensure all required technical changes and controls are implemented
  • Data stewards should be in close harmony with security related aspects
  • Data stewards should strive to ensure the data produced by source systems is valid an downstream data is more accurate

Fortifying Data Governance through Data Stewardship

Data Quality and Integrity: Data stewards are instrumental in maintaining data quality by implementing standards and protocols for data collection, validation, and cleansing. By ensuring data accuracy, completeness, and consistency, they bolster the reliability of information used for decision-making.

Regulatory Compliance: In an era marked by stringent data privacy laws and regulations, data stewards play a pivotal role in ensuring compliance. They interpret regulatory requirements, implement policies to safeguard sensitive data, and oversee adherence to legal frameworks like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and more.

Risk Mitigation and Security: Mitigating risks associated with data breaches and ensuring data security is a primary concern for organizations. Data stewards define access controls, encryption methods, and data masking techniques to protect sensitive information, thus fortifying the organization’s security posture.

Data Lifecycle Management: Overseeing the entire data lifecycle—from creation and usage to archival or deletion—is a fundamental aspect of data stewardship. They establish protocols for data retention, archival, and disposal in compliance with legal and business requirements.

Facilitating Collaboration: Data stewards act as facilitators, fostering collaboration between various stakeholders including data analysts, IT teams, business units, and compliance officers. Their role in mediating communication ensures alignment between business objectives and data management strategies.

Ethical Data Use Advocacy: Upholding ethical standards in data usage is paramount. Data stewards champion ethical considerations in data handling, ensuring that algorithms and analytics deployed do not perpetuate biases and are used in ways aligned with moral and societal norms.

Building a strong Data Stewardship Community

Building a robust Data Stewardship Community is crucial for fostering collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and driving effective data governance initiatives within organizations. A vibrant community of data stewards can facilitate best practices, offer support, and create a network for continuous learning and improvement

  1. Clear Roles and Responsibilities: Defining clear roles, responsibilities, and authority levels of data stewards within the organization.
  2. Robust Training and Education: Equipping data stewards with continuous training on evolving technologies, regulatory updates, and ethical considerations.
  3. Adoption of Automation: Leveraging automation tools for routine data management tasks, enabling data stewards to focus on strategic initiatives.
  4. Encouraging Knowledge Sharing and Learning: Facilitate peer learning sessions where data stewards can present case studies, share challenges, and discuss successful strategies. Encourage open discussions to learn from each other’s experiences
  5. Leadership Support: Data Owner provides the required support including funding and supporting any escalations and blockers
  6. Cultivating a Collaborative Environment: Establish online platforms, forums, or discussion groups where data stewards can collaborate, exchange ideas, seek advice, and share best practices
  7. Recognizing and Celebrating Achievements: Recognize the contributions and achievements of data stewards. Celebrate milestones, successful implementations, or innovative approaches in data governance, fostering a culture of appreciation


In conclusion, the symbiotic relationship between data stewardship and data governance is pivotal for organizations seeking to harness the full potential of their data assets. By empowering data stewards with the authority, resources, and expertise necessary to manage and govern data effectively, organizations can navigate the complexities of the data landscape while ensuring compliance, mitigating risks, and driving informed decision-making. As data continues to be the cornerstone of modern enterprises, investing in robust data stewardship practices is imperative for sustainable growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.

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