The focus on corporate accountability has been brought to the forefront with the impact of enterprise failures of Enron, Andersen, WorldCom and others. Real and sustainable information quality involvement can only be achieved by implementing accountability for information like accountability has been implemented for other business products and resources stated Larry P. English, president and principal of INFORMATION IMPACT International, Inc., as he introduced his session at TDWI World Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Information stewardship represents the roles people play in information quality and is a requirement to accomplish sustainable quality in both the data warehouse and the operational databases that supply it.

English started with Peter Block’s definition of stewardship as "the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control of those around us." People are good "stewards" when they perform their work in way that benefits their internal and external "customers" (the larger organization), not just themselves. He expanded the definition for Information stewardship to "the willingness to be accountable for a set of business information for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control of those around us."

English described the business roles in information stewardship required to provide sustainable information for the data warehouse:

  • Business managers who oversee processes that create information are managerial information stewards who have ultimate accountability for the quality of information produced to meet downstream information customers’ needs, including data warehouse customers. Managers must provide resources and training to information producers so they are able to produce quality information for all information customers.
  • Business information stewards are subject matter experts from the business who validate data definition, domain values and business rules for data in their area of expertise. They must assure data definition meets the needs not just of their own business area, but also for all other business personnel who require that data to perform their business processes. They work with the data warehouse team to assure robustness of data definition and correctness of any data transformation rules.

In global or multidivisional enterprises, one single steward may not be able to validate data definition requirements for data common to many business units. One information group may have several business stewards, each representing the view of their business unit, with one steward serving as a team leader.
English offered concrete ways to implement information stewardship formally and informally. Successful stewardship programs have been implemented formally when organizations are able to acquire executive leadership. Organizations have also successfully implemented stewardship with a bottom-up approach by applying it informally in information that crosses organizational boundaries with service level-like agreements for information quality between the information producer business manager and the customer business manager.

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