Who owns the Data in a Data Warehouse?

Who owns the Data in a Data Warehouse?

A lot of the confusion that rises around data governance is organisations trying to figure out who owns what data and who is responsible for that data – and I am willing to admit that even I made the odd mistake when I first started out. Thankfully, I have the benefit of hindsight and I’ve made some of the mistakes so that you don’t have to!

So, let’s look at data warehouses… I can understand that people think it would be so much easier if we could just have one person owning that data in the data warehouse. That’s exactly what I did when I was first starting out in Data Governance because it was really easy. We already had a business owner of the data warehouse so I went to them and asked them if they would own the data as well – and they agreed!

However, it was only after that that I started finding that this actually caused more problems than it solved, because if you have one person owning that data how could they possibly understand everything about that data and know everything about it?

I would ask the person to make decisions on that data and they’d go

“Oh, I don’t know about it because I don’t know why that data is collected. It just happens to be in the data warehouse.”

Another scenario that I would frequently see is the owner of the data warehouse coming to me to complain that some of the data in the data warehouse was poor quality. I’d go to the person who owns the data in System A where that data was coming from, and I’d say “the data warehouse data owner says you’re sending rubbish data” and they would reply “No, I’m not. My data is wonderful. They’re corrupting it when they load it and transform it into the data warehouse.”

And in this no-win scenario, the data governance officer is piggy in the middle getting sent between systems whilst each side blamed the other for the poor quality data and nothing got solved and nothing got sorted. This is why I realised the hard way that having one person owning the data in a data warehouse really doesn’t help.

What we have to do is have one data owner for one data set wherever it is in your organisation, because we need one person who can make decisions about it and be held accountable for the quality of that data – not multiple people making different and potentially conflicting decisions about data that actually just happens to reside on multiple different systems.

Simply, find the most appropriate person to own the data – and do not just let this role fall on the owner of the data warehouse; often they don’t have a complete overview or understanding of the data.

It really is worth the effort of finding the right person upfront. It takes a little bit more effort, but you will be putting in place a good foundation for your Data Governance framework.

Don’t forget if you have any questions you’d like covered in future videos or blogs please email me – questions@nicolaaskham.com.

Originally posted on https://www.nicolaaskham.com/

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