Data stewards: a must for data-driven companies

By Henning Lund - May 10, 2022

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You have invested much in your systems. Your CRM takes care of your customer-related operations. Your ERP helps your staff handle administrative and operational tasks and control the billing cycle. You may even have a SCM system to streamline your production and supply chain processes. An ecommerce platform may help you sell online. 

This means that you collect growing amounts of data every day. Each and every interaction that you have with your customers and other business partners is registered in one or more of these systems. Thai is what to expect in a world dominated by big data. 

The interest for data collection has exploded in the past decencies. Today, many companies are facing challenges to make sense and use these goldmines of information. Companies strive to become truly data-driven and master data management (MDM) has become a vital element of their business strategies.

Data consolidation and analysis is not always easy to perform. When your data is spread out between multiple data sources, it can be impossible to gather, consolidate and analyze your data. Optimal data usage is key.

There are of course solutions to this challenge. For example, a good data integration strategy can help you get the desired unified view of your data. Data integration tools and other integration platforms are a great help in that matter. They have even become more affordable and easy to use.

Data integration is a great step towards better data usage. Companies that are truly data-driven often need more. Appointing a data steward can be the final key to improving data utilization. This article will explain why data stewards are invaluable assets to companies that want to make the most of their data.

What is the role of data stewards?

A data steward is the person responsible for making sure that you can make the best out of your data. Data stewards’ responsibilities include: 

  • Define, apply and monitor the principles of your data governance strategy
  • Monitor your data source systems (including from management systems, data lakes, data stores, etc.)
  • Prepare and follow a dedicated data plan
  • Keep track of your data processes
  • Build or suggest acquiring new systems to improve data collection, consolidation and analysis
  • Spot and resolve data issues
  • Ensure the highest possible data quality throughout the entire data lifecycle


Data stewards have therefore a very important role. You may have systems to collect data and a data quality strategy or master data management solutions (MDM solutions). However, without someone to ensure the application your data governance rules this could all go to waste. 

In many organizations, data stewards gather all data governance roles. However, some organizations have come so far as to make further distinctions according to their exact role in data governance. 

In this case, there is a distinction between data stewards, data owners and data custodians. In this case also, the role of the data steward is more centered around having a full understanding of the data. This includes where it comes from, what it can be used for and which processes need to be implemented to secure data usage.

Data owner vs data steward

The data owner’s job and responsibility is that of classification and protection of the data and its quality so that it can be used by the organization. Data classification and mostly data quality are his or her main responsibilities. 

Every data set in every company should be assigned a data owner to ensure the best possible data quality. 

Data steward vs data custodian

As its title indicates, a data custodian’s main focus is around data protection and data security. Data custodians implement and maintain security controls for each given data set in accordance to rules defined by the data owner and to match the data purpose defined by the data steward.


Why is data stewardship important?

Data stewards have one sole focus and responsibility: providing your staff with high-quality data that can be easily accessed and used. This is a vital function for any company that wants to use collected data to improve the processes, operations, customer satisfaction and eventually their results. 

In the healthcare industry, having a competent and dedicated data steward is a must have. Healthcare companies gather and handle large amounts of sensitive, personal data healthcare. If that data is handled correctly and securely, analyzing patient data becomes faster and easier. It becomes simpler to understand a treatment and provide the best care solutions. Communication is easier and patients are treated better. A lack of such responsible and secure data handling can become a problem or even a liability. 

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Data stewards and data integration

Data stewards are an obvious asset for organizations that wish to implement a successful data integration strategy. Their focus on data quality secures a high data quality. To be successful, data integration implementation projects require clean, consistent, correct and updated data

Therefore, many IT leaders worldwide advise appointing a data steward. A data steward can indeed benchmark levels of data quality prior to the data integration project and measure how poor data quality impacts business results. 

Including a data steward from the beginning of a data integration project is more than a good idea. It is a must-have for companies that wish to make it right the first time. A data steward will look at data transfer processes in a unique way. They will ensure that the data remains clean, current and correct, for example letting it pass through as few people as possible.

At the same time and in the longer run, the job of data stewards is significantly simplified by the use of data integration. By connecting systems, data integration solutions ensure one single truth of data. 

When you use a data integration solution to connect your different systems, managing access, sharing and utilization of data is made significantly easier. Data stewardship and data integration seem to go hand in hand to deliver organizations data that they can retrieve, consolidate, analyze and utilize to improve their processes and results.

About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.
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