Ensure integrity throughout your data's life cycle

Identifying who owns your data at different stages in the life cycle should be a priority if your business wants to be successful.


Enterprise users’ needs invariably differ, which results in conflicts due to inconsistent data models across systems. As data quality issues occur, you will need to apply new rules.

Data integrity should be a requirement at every stage of every business process. You need to make sure your data serves all your stakeholders, all the time. If it doesn’t, take the time to understand the three key roles needed to define, measure, confirm, and verify data across your enterprise. By doing that you can meet, and even exceed, the expectations of the business.

Who owns the data?

A number of stakeholders rely on data integrity to meet their objectives. These typically include a business owner and operations owner of each IT system. In larger organizations, however, there are additional people even more intimately connected to data and its integrity:

  • The data owner. Controls the information, including the right to create, access, modify, package, sell, or remove data. He or she is responsible for the data in the system of source (SOS) or system of record (SOR). The data owner takes an abstract view of data, focusing on the relationships between tables, roles, or structures.
  • The application owner. Ensures that the programs within the application accomplish the specified objectives and match user requirements. He or she is also critically involved in application rationalization efforts and appropriate security safeguards. The application owner looks at data from the context of data capture and process.

The application owner is also ideally positioned to communicate with stakeholders. IT tends to communicate with technical language and frequently imposes technical requirements. The business, on the other hand, communicates through business terminology without fully explaining its processes. The application owner should be fluent in both languages and understand the particular needs of each team.

Maintaining data quality across the enterprise

Data quality issues arise as data gets shared, replicated, archived, moved to a warehouse for reporting, or sent to another system. Enterprise users’ needs invariably differ, which results in conflicts due to inconsistent data models across systems. As data quality issues occur, you will need to apply new rules.

This is where a third role is imperative:

  • The data steward. Takes responsibility for data definitions, context, resolving inconsistencies across business functions, and the appropriate business guidelines. Often called data custodians, they oversee the safe custody, transport, and storage of data and the implementation of those rules. It’s their job to explain official standards and descriptions to the various owners and stakeholders throughout the life cycle.

The relationship among data owners, application owners, and data stewards is synchronistic. All are essential to data quality and integrity. Each one needs the others in order to succeed. Understand the responsibilities of each role and ensure someone is taking them on. If not, assign someone. By doing so, you are one step closer to data integrity. And everyone can benefit from that.

For more on managing an organization’s data, visit GovernYourData.com and sign up to become part of the enterprise data management community. 

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