Guidelines for data ownership

Vijay Mohan

Guidelines for data ownership

Are there any guidelines for data ownership? When deciding ownership for an attribute or data set what guidelines need to be followed? So for example if you meet X, Y, Z criteria or guideline you can take ownership.

Merrill Albert

RE: Guidelines for data ownership
(in response to Vijay Mohan)

By your question, it sounds like you're trying to find a single owner for an attribute or data set.  If so, think about it a little differently.  For instance, if you wanted to get a single owner for "customer address", you would probably have a hard time because customer address might be used and updated by many departments in the company.  The better way to think about it is you should govern your data.  If you develop a data governance organization, you bring representatives from all departments together as decision makers and they collectively make decisions about the data.  There's no single owner and you don't want a single owner because that risks making decisions about the data without a full understanding of how the data is used.

Vijay Mohan

RE: Guidelines for data ownership
(in response to Merrill Albert)

Thank you for your reply Merrill. Yes, we do have a data governance organization. We are OK even if there are multiple owners for an attribute or even a set of attributes. We have the concept of Data stewards, Data owners, Data Custodian reasonably well embedded in our organization. However sometimes people don't want to take ownership and pass the buck.

At other times questions get posed as to what guidelines should be considered when deciding ownership? Also in cases where department A says department B should own it and vice versa, how does one go about resolving these deadlocks? 

As of today if nobody takes ownership the data steward is given enhanced stewardship responsibilities and becomes de-facto owner although this is not an optimal solution always.

So is there a set of guidelines or checklist that can help a potential owner/s assess if they should or should not be taking ownership of an attribute or a set of attributes? So let's say if you are approached to take ownership of a particular set of data (either individually or in conjunction with others), how would you go about evaluating this request? 

Edited By:
Vijay Mohan[All DATAVERSITY Members] @ Oct 31, 2019 - 07:23 PM (Asia/Calcutta)

Vijay Mohan

RE: Guidelines for data ownership
(in response to Vijay Mohan)

Let me elaborate further. So let's say I go to finance department and say - guys can you please evaluate and see if you want to be owners for this data? Finance says, OK let me check and pulls out their checklist/guideline. And it goes something like this;

Do you have subject matter experts for the data being considered for ownership?

Do you use this data for any significant processing , calculations, reporting or analysis in your world?

Is this data generally seen as something that falls under the expertise of your department?

Is your department considered an authority for this data and any changes impacting this data?

If you have selected Yes to all of the above, you are a Data Owner. 

So essentially this is what am looking to create - a guideline/checklist that I can take to business functions when data ownership is being discussed. 

Your views?

Merrill Albert

RE: Guidelines for data ownership
(in response to Vijay Mohan)

So it seems your question is more about how to recruit people into the data governance organization.  I don't use a checklist.  I look at how the company is organized and get representation from each department.  I meet with each person individually with a 2-page presentation explaining what DG is, how it benefits them, and what is expected of them.  I leave the presentation with them so they can think about it and get back to me with questions.  I sometimes have the right person and sometimes get directed to someone else.  Once DG kicks off, I know it might not be 100% perfect, but it typically works out in a couple of meetings.  (Too senior people will realize they have to do work and reassign to someone else.  Too junior people will realize they don't have the authority to make a decision and reassign to someone else.)