I have described three of the six environment management functions in the extended Corporate Information Factory in my last few columns. Quality management is the fourth function, and its purpose is to ensure that the data provided by the Corporate Information Factory meets its business users' quality expectations. Quality management is enhanced in enterprises that recognize data as an important asset that needs to be managed.

Data stewardship is the management responsibility over data. In addition to planning for data, its scope includes the business and technical processes that handle the acquisition, management and maintenance, distribution and disposal of data. While most of the responsibility for data stewardship rests in the business departments, some is within the scope of IT.

IT is the business group responsible for managing data. As such, its data steward establishes the business rules for managing data, including the data modeling conventions, data definition rules, data naming standards, etc. In this same vein, while the business data stewards are responsible for the metadata content, IT is responsible for the system and database (i.e., repository) that are used to manage metadata.

The data model is a critical tool for managing the data. The model represents business rules pertaining to the data using a format that facilitates the creation of the physical tables for storing the data. Model creation is a collaborative effort. The business data stewards provide the input (e.g., data elements, relationships, definitions), and the data modeler represents these in the business data model.

Acquisition

The business area responsible for a set of data must define the business rules for bringing data for that area into the company. These rules include quality expectations as well as the business processes and validation requirements to ensure that the data meets the quality expectations. IT provides support by helping the business areas understand the quality of existing data and the costs associated with deploying measures to meet the desired expectations. With input from IT, the business data steward can ultimately establish the data acquisition rules. The business rules don't merely pertain to the systems used to create the data internally. They also need to address the field activities that acquire the information. For example, if the quality requirements include customer demographic information on people who buy your products, the field procedures must include instructions on the information that needs to be captured and the importance of doing so.

Data Management and Maintenance

The business rules and resultant data processing rules established for creating data continue into its management and maintenance. In addition, business data stewards need to establish rules concerning the application of changes to the data and also determine the criticality of the data. This information is then used by IT to design and deploy appropriate procedures for data backup, disaster recovery and security.

Distribution

A major goal of business intelligence is to distribute information to provide business value. This is another focus area for the business data steward. Responsibilities include establishing the privacy and security rules (consistent with regulations and corporate policies), the output quality expectations, the guidelines for information use and the requirements for metadata delivery. Related to these responsibilities is the coordination of requirements and education to help the business users understand how they can apply the information to provide business value. IT supports the business data stewards by providing information on options as input to the decisions and by deploying capabilities in line with the requirements set or sanctioned by the business data stewards.

Disposal

Disposal is the last responsibility associated with the data. Traditionally, document management departments periodically notified people to dispose of documents that the enterprise deemed no longer necessary. While some of the justification was the cost associated with storing the documents, a major reason was that the documents became liabilities rather than assets. The business data steward has a similar responsibility pertaining to data and needs to determine when possession of certain data is more of a liability than an asset. At that point, he or she needs to initiate processes to eradicate the data and to ensure that people throughout the enterprise comply.

Data is an enterprise asset, and responsibilities for its management are parallel to responsibilities for managing other assets. Each set of data must have a business area responsible for it, and that area's representative is the business data steward. This steward is responsible for managing data related to that area throughout its lifecycle. A set of data that is sometimes neglected when appointing data stewards metadata. In planning for information needs, the IT organization is the business area responsible for the metadata, and its business data steward must work with the data stewards from other business areas who are responsible for the metadata content. The IT data steward is responsible for the metadata system, and the business data stewards are users of this system. As users, they help set requirements and are also responsible for the content. 

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