The terms Data Governance and Data Stewardship are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference. Data Governance brings together cross-functional teams to make interdependent rules or to resolve issues or to provide services to data stakeholders. These cross-functional teams – Data Stewards and/or Data Governors – generally come from the Business side of operations. They set policy that IT and Data groups will follow as they establish their architectures, implement their own best practices, and address requirements. Data Governance can be considered the overall process of making this work.
What, then is Data Stewardship?
Data Stewardship is concerned with taking care of data assets that do not belong to the stewards themselves. Data Stewards represent the concerns of others. Some may represent the needs of the entire organization. Others may be tasked with representing a smaller constituency: a business unit, department, or even a set of data themselves.
In some organizations, Data Stewards are senior representatives of stakeholder groups. As members of a Data Stewardship Council, they convene to make decisions about the treatment of data assets. However, in some other organizations Data Stewards operate independently, ensuring that the rules and controls are applied to data appropriately.
An accountability-focused definition of Data Stewardship is “the set of activities that ensure data-related work is performed according to policies and practices as established through governance.”