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Data Stewardship Framework, Part 2

Published
  • January 01 2003, 1:00am EST

This column is the second in a series on the data stewardship framework. In this month's installment, we will examine the necessary data stewardship policies and procedures.

The tasks that the data stewardship committee will need to complete before they can capture/define business and technical meta data include: a data stewardship charter, data stewardship activities definition and prioritization, data stewardship committee rules of order, data stewardship roles, and data stewardship standard documents and forms.

The first task of the data stewardship committee is to form a documented charter for their activities. It should state the business purposes that necessitated the data stewardship committee formation and should not be a voluminous document as this document's goal is to provide a clear direction as to the strategic business goals of the data stewardship committee. If you are creating a data stewardship charter that is greater than two pages, your charter is most likely too long. The charter needs to target the specific areas of concern/opportunities that exist within your company.

For example, pharmaceutical companies tend to have very extensive and elaborate data stewardship committees; therefore, the data stewardship charter would focus on clinical trials, the process that a pharmaceutical company follows to research, develop and attain government approval for new compounds (drugs). The average cost for developing a new drug is between $150 and $250 million and more than 10 years of time before it can be brought to market. The rule of thumb in this industry is that for every day a company's new compound is delayed from reaching the market, the company loses $1 million in revenue. This includes the extra time it will take to recoup sunk expenses (ever see the interest expense on $150 million?) and the possibility of another company creating a competing compound. During these trials, government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have rigorous standards that must be met before a new drug can gain approval. These organizations and their corresponding legislation require that a pharmaceutical company have very explicit definitions for their data elements. Clearly, a pharmaceutical company's data stewardship committee's charter will focus very heavily on how they can expedite the passing of the FDA audits.

Once the data stewardship charter has been defined, the data stewardship committee will need to define the specific activities that they will be performing (more about that next month). It is vital that these activities support the strategic objectives of the data stewardship charter.

Once these activities have been defined, the next task is to prioritize the activities. At this point, I like to use a matrix to decide which of the activities will be most beneficial to the organization.

Once the activities of the data stewardship committee have been identified, the committee will have to create rules of order for their organization. The types of rules of order that will need to be defined include: regular meeting schedule, meeting structure/agenda, issue documentation, issue resolution, and meeting notes capture and dissemination.

After the data stewardship committee has defined their rules of order, it will be important for this team to formally define their different data stewardship roles and responsibilities. Last month I defined four data stewardship roles: executive sponsor, chief steward, business steward and technical steward. These roles are a good beginning set for any new data stewardship committee; however, if you are like most companies, you will tailor these roles, titles and descriptions to suit your company's specific needs.

Once the data stewardships have been defined and assigned, it is time for the data stewardship committee to create any standard documents or forms that will be needed to support the data stewardship activities that have been defined and prioritized. This activity is important as you do not want to have each steward creating his or her own document/form for each activity.

One of the most common documents or forms that will be required is a change-control document. These documents can be used by members of your company to formally document their data stewardship tasks. For example, suppose that a key task of your data stewardship committee is to define business meta data definitions. Certainly, you will have business stewards working on these definitions; however, there may be people that are not formally part of the data stewardship committee who may want to recommend changes to the business definitions that your business stewards defined. Clearly, you would need a form (optimally Web-based, tied into a meta data repository) that would allow these people to provide their feedback on these definitions.

Another common form is a data stewardship feedback mechanism. It is important that the data stewardship committee not be viewed as a group that is in their own "ivory" tower. Allow people to provide their feedback on the things that your data stewardship committee is doing well, in addition to giving recommendations on what they can do better.

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