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BI Stewardship
Part 1 - Data Stewardship and Information Stewardship: Both Sides of the Same Coin

by Richard BlahunkaFriday, February 11, 2011

Stewardship

Stewardship is the proper oversight and governance of data and information assets on behalf, and in the best interests, of the business sponsors and information owners.  These assets are the materialized form of data, meta-data, business rules, and derived information.  Proper stewardship is especially important for deploying metrics oriented dashboards within any organization to ensure information completeness, consistency, accuracy, reliability and integrity. 

Proper stewardship is critical to the short-term and long-term success of providing meaningful and actionable information to the user community.  The stewardship function must provide oversight and governance of both - data flowing into BI and dashboard systems and information flowing out of BI and dashboard systems; that is, oversight and governance from both the data-side (Data-In) and the reporting/analytical-side (Info-Out).  Stewardship must not only govern data and meta-data, but also stewardship must govern the collections of business rules and derived information produced in the form of queries, reports, analytics, forecasts, metrics, dashboards, and scorecards. 

data in information out

Stewardship is not necessarily directly involved in data architecture (although stewardship may influence data architecture); rather, stewardship is primarily involved in “Command and Control” of processes, procedures and governance that impact overall data and information quality and value. 

Comprehensive and thorough end-to-end BI and dashboard stewardship is a very challenging and daunting task, which may be quite difficult to govern collectively under a single data stewardship individual or team.  Therefore, a more practical approach is to divide and conquer - by splitting stewardship responsibilities into two domains: Data Stewardship (Data-In) and Information Stewardship (Info-Out).

Stewardship Alignment

Data Stewardship and Information Stewardship are essentially oversight and governance roles that have organizational authority and responsibility.  The functions of these complimentary roles can be thought of as being aligned in the following manner:

Data Stewardship Alignment

  • Governance of data proliferation
  • Governance of data maintenance
  • Governance of meta-data proliferation
  • Governance of meta-data maintenance
  • Governance of (data-in) business-rules library proliferation
  • Governance of (data-in) business-rules library maintenance

Information Stewardship Alignment

  • Governance of (info-out) business-rules library proliferation
  • Governance of (info-out) business-rules library proliferation
  • Governance of report proliferation
  • Governance of report maintenance
  • Governance of analytics proliferation
  • Governance of analytics maintenance
  • Governance of forecast models proliferation
  • Governance of forecast models maintenance
  • Governance of dashboard proliferation
  • Governance of dashboard maintenance

Data Stewardship and Information Stewardship do not operate independently in silos; rather these two stewardship functions operate hand-in-hand to provide end-to-end seamless oversight and governance of all data, meta-data, business rules, and information.

Data Stewardship

Data Stewardship is a data-centric function that is primarily concerned with incoming data, meta-data, data quality, data archiving, etc; in other words, the data-staging side of the fence. 

Data stewardship has many small components and moving parts that need to be carefully governed in order to build a stable and usable collection of data gathered from many disparate sources across the enterprise.  Data Stewardship governance oversees:

  • data completeness
  • data consistency
  • data accuracy
  • data reliability
  • data integrity
  • data timeliness
  • data integration
  • data organization
  • data reconcilability
  • data audit-ability
  • and overall data quality. 

Data Stewardship is primarily concerned with maintaining (or improving) the integrity of data gathered from authoritative data sources. 

Additionally, Data Stewardship is responsible for monitoring usage of data and meta-data - and taking positive actions to retire obsolete or unused content.  Keeping data clutter and redundancy to a minimum is also a core Data Stewardship function. 

Information Stewardship

Information Stewardship is an information-centric function that is primarily concerned with information delivery, meta-data management, information quality, information timeliness, information redundancy, etc; in other words, the BI and dashboard side of the fence.

In many ways, Information Stewardship is more challenging than Data Stewardship because of the fluid and rapid pace of changing customer needs and demands driving BI application development and information delivery.  Without proper governance - information inaccuracies, information inconsistencies, and information redundancy can quickly grow out of control like a wildfire. 

Information Stewardship oversees and governs:

  • information visibility
  • information accessibility
  • information usability
  • information consistency
  • information accuracy
  • information integrity
  • information meaningfulness
  • information actionability
  • information timeliness
  • information audit-ability
  • information certification
  • and overall information quality. 

Information Stewardship is primarily concerned with ensuring the integrity of information produced from authoritative data sources and delivered via authoritative BI and dashboard systems, tools, applications, and processes.  Conversely, information that is derived and disseminated via casual, non-authoritative means (such as spreadsheets and personal data stashes) frequently bypass the “command and control” of the Information Steward, thus creating information chaos within the organization – an all too common occurrence. 

Additionally, Information Stewardship is responsible for monitoring usage of reporting,  analytical and dashboard applications - and taking positive actions to retire obsolete or unused content, applications and metrics.  Keeping information clutter to a minimum is also a core Information Stewardship function. 

Synergies and Shared Responsibilities

The establishment of both Data and Information Stewardship roles has synergistic benefits to the organization - providing complimentary perspectives on every issue, such as:

  • privacy issues
  • compliance
  • defect measurement
  • level of effort
  • service levels
  • content inventory
  • content organization
  • content usage

Shared responsibilities of the Data Stewardship and Information Stewardship roles include: 

  • Master Data Management (MDM)
  • business rules library management
  • access and security
  • standards and conventions
  • data quality profiling, monitoring, and management
  • change control and management
  • governance
  • content organization and housekeeping
  • problem resolution
  • systems operations
  • overall information integrity

Together, these two ‘command and control’ roles provide more cohesive and complete governance of content and information deliverables – resulting in improved integration, accessibility, consistency, meaningfulness, usability, communication, enforcement, and overall information integrity and end-user satisfaction. 

Summary

Proper stewardship is critical to the short-term and long-term success of providing meaningful and actionable information delivery to the user community.  Data and Information Stewardship combine to establish the overarching cohesive framework, and organization that integrates, manages, prioritizes, delivers and measures the business value of enterprise information assets over time.  These two key roles provide complimentary perspectives on compelling issues and governance challenges of any information delivery program – getting the right data “in” dashboard systems and getting the right information “out” of dashboard systems. 

About the Author

Richard Blahunka, CBIP, has over 20 years of business intelligence and analytics experience specializing in product management, project management, governance, and strategic thinking -- predominantly in Fortune 500 companies, including Lockheed Martin, FedEx, MCI, Entergy, SAS, and NCR -- within military, utility, airline, telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, and education industries. He is currently a contractor working on BI applications for the United States Navy based in New Orleans, and can be reached at richard.blahunka.ctr@navy.mil or rickblahunka@yahoo.com.   

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