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5/23/2006
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Kimball University: Data Stewardship 101: First Step to Quality and Consistency

Data stewards are the liaisons between business users and the data warehouse team, and they ensure consistent, accurate, well-documented and timely insight on resources and requirements.

Bob Becker

University DW/BI Best Practices

Consistent data is the Holy Grail for most data warehouse initiatives, and data stewards are the crusaders who fearlessly strive toward that goal. An active data stewardship program identifies, defines and protects data across the organization. Stewardship ensures the initial effort to populate the data warehouse is done correctly, while significantly reducing the amount of rework necessary down the road. Data stewards enforce discipline and serve as a conduit between the business and IT.

The primary focus of a stewardship team is determining an organization's data warehouse content, defining common definitions, assuring data quality and managing appropriate access. They help create and enforce firm vocabularies and associated business rules. In many organizations, the same words are often used to describe different things, different words are used to describe the same thing and the same descriptor or value may have several different meanings. A stewardship team can reach across the organization to develop consistently defined business terminology.

Why Stewardship Is Essential

An active stewardship program lets organizations improve their understanding of corporate data assets, discover the relationships among the data, consolidate metadata describing the data and ultimately transform data into actionable information.

An enterprise data warehousing effort committed to dimensional modeling must commit to conformed dimensions to ensure consistency across multiple business processes. (A conformed dimension is a single, coherent view of the same piece of data throughout the organization.) An active data stewardship program can help large enterprises tackle the difficult task of agreeing upon conformed dimensions, which is more of a communication than technical challenge. Various groups across the enterprise are often committed to their own proprietary business rules and definitions. Data stewards must work closely with and cajole all interest groups to develop and embrace common business rules and definitions across the enterprise.

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