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Anatomy of a Data Steward

Attributes of a successful data steward

One of the hardest components to get correct in any Data Stewardship programme is to find, hire, and enable the Data Stewards themselves. The core skills required to succeed in this role demand diversity of knowledge, inter-personal communication excellence, and critical thinking skills. This article is designed to show you the Anatomy of a Data Steward.

In many organisations we deal with, the Data Steward is a reluctant participant in the Data Governance process. Perhaps they’ve been nominated for the role without sufficient training. Other times there is no overarching Data Strategy. Worse still is when they’re buried about 10 layers deep in the organisation, with no access to power or authority to make the changes required.

What Core Skills Do Data Stewards Need?

We’ve put together the infographic below to show the high-level anatomy of a Data Steward. This is not a complete picture, and it’s possible that no single person in your team will have the full skill set.

Where do you find these profiles?

Typically it’s easier to focus on internal candidates, due to the need to have a depth of knowledge on the internal data, processes and strategies. At the same time, the most important skills are often the softer skills – and if you do not have internal capabilities in this space it may be best to hire externally.

If you hire externally then laser in on someone with exceptional Change Management skills. It’s important to be able to listen internally to find resistance to change, as well as to build change networks to enact change.

How do we Develop Data Steward Skills Internally?

In order to develop these skills you’ll need to invest in your people. There are plenty of online courses available – such as eLearning Curve – that can teach the basics and provide accreditation. The downside to these courses is the fact your team won’t get “hands on” solving their own project challenges, and the time to complete the training can spread over a long period of time.

Cognopia has partnered with The Data Governance Coach, Nicola Askham, to provide Data Governance training. We can arrange bespoke training packages for your team too if required.

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