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Data Owners vs Data Stewards vs Data Custodians

Data Owners vs Data Stewards vs Data Custodians

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In today’s data-driven world, organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of their data assets. Understanding the main roles in data governance is important to effectively manage assets. The main roles are Data Owners, Data Stewards, and Data Custodians.

Each role plays a crucial part in handling and maximizing the value of data assets. Understanding these roles is essential for successful data governance.

This article will discuss the roles and responsibilities that help make an organization’s data management strategy successful.

Data Owners: The Accountable Authorities

Data Owners are important individuals who oversee the management of data in an organization. They are in charge of classifying, protecting, utilizing, and maintaining the integrity of one or more data sets.

They are responsible for ensuring that the organization’s data glossary is comprehensive and agreed upon by all stakeholders. Data Owners create systems to check the quality of data. They also report on the quality of data. Additionally, they create processes to deal with any data quality problems.

To fulfill their responsibilities, Data Owners need the authority to make necessary changes to workflows, practices, and infrastructure. They also require adequate resources to initiate actions for ensuring data quality, such as data cleansing and audits. Upper management positions typically include Data Owners based on these requirements.

Example: In a retail chain, the Head of Sales might be the Data Owner for customer data from sweepstakes. They are in charge of sales targets. They value making marketing campaigns successful. This makes them a good fit for deciding how to improve data quality and security.

Data Stewards: The Subject Matter Experts

Data Stewards are subject matter experts with a thorough understanding of a particular data set. They ensure that they classify, protect, use properly, and maintain good quality of the data. They must follow the data governance standards set by the Data Owner.

Data Owner chooses Data Stewards. They can have different backgrounds, like business, operations, IT, or project-specific roles.

Four distinct types of Data Stewards:

  1. Business Data Stewards
  2. Operational Data Stewards
  3. Technical Data Stewards
  4. Project Data Stewards

Individuals differentiate these roles based on their functional background within the organization. Several people need to work together to manage the same data and ensure they take good care of it.

For instance, in a factory, the Production Manager might choose different employees to be Data Stewards. Production Shift Supervisors may track material usage and output data. Maintenance Engineers could monitor machine performance data. A Quality Lead could oversee defect and rejection data.

Data Custodians: The Security Implementers

Data Custodians are in charge of implementing and maintaining security controls for a specific data set. They make sure that they meet the requirements set by the Data Owner in the Data Governance Framework. They are often mistaken for Data Owners because they are responsible for storing and securing a data set. However, it’s important to note that storing data does not equate to ownership.

Data Custodians are typically IT professionals who oversee the storage and security infrastructure for one or multiple data sets. They work closely with Data Owners and Stewards to make sure data is safe and accessible to authorized people.

In a retail chain, an IT administrator acts as the Data Custodian. They ensure that authorized staff can safely store customer data on a cloud server and access it.

The Importance of Clarity in Data Governance Roles

Every role needs to have clear tasks, specific data sets to manage, and guidelines for when to take action. Each role should have a set of defined tasks that they are responsible for. They should also have specific data sets that they are in charge of. Provide clear guidelines that specify when they can or must take action.

The Data Owner is responsible for data governance. Data Stewards also have similar duties, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Data Owner. Establish clear escalation matrices to address any issues that may arise.


Effective data governance is a team effort that requires the collaboration of Data Owners, Data Stewards, and Data Custodians. Organizations can improve how they handle their data assets by understanding the responsibilities of each role.

This will help them leverage the data for better analytics and business exploration. Ensuring clarity in the definitions of these roles is important. This will make it easier for everyone to understand their responsibilities and work together effectively.

Data alone doesn’t solve problems or add value. How we manage and use data makes a difference. Having a good system in place for managing data is important.

This system should include clear roles and responsibilities. This will help ensure that people see data as a valuable asset rather than a risk.


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