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Data Trustee or Data Trustees

Today it’s all about TOGAF* principle 13: Data Trustee. “Each data element has a trustee accountable for data quality”


One bullet in the TOGAF principle describe a Data Trustee’s job very well “The Data Trustee will be responsible for meeting quality requirements levied upon the data for which the trustee is accountable”. Also an important point is that your company needs to make a cultural shift from data “ownership” to data “trusteeship”. E.g. Customer is a data object used by many departments but you might only have one Data Trustee for all Customer fields. So it is the trustee that is ultimately accountable for the data quality not the various teams that enter customer data. For him/her to be successful any team that wants to change data management or data definitions around customer needs to work with the trustee vs. just their team.


As explained in my Data for All blog, having a rigorous data management process is quite an undertaking. Remember that “the process rigor around data should depend on the value of the data to the enterprise”. (Data is an Asset).


For your less important data your Data Steward and Data Trustee might just be one person. On the other hand I would suggest that for high value enterprise data you have at least three roles:

  1. A Data Trustee with a strong IT background

  2. A Data Trustee in a business role

  3. Data Steward (Business)

In a very complex environment it is very hard for a non-IT professional to understand where and how the data is used across a multitude of systems and how it impacts many functional areas (Sales, Finance, …). Position 2 is often needed because the actual Data Steward is at a level in the organization that he/she does not have the bandwidth to understand all the intricacies of the data and needs a more hands on business colleague. So what happens is that position 2 above is the Data Steward for detailed design workshops.


In less complex environments it is not unusual for the Data Trustee to be from the IT department and the Data Steward to be from the business. Thus only needing two roles.


Key takeaways again are:

  • Data Management is complex and needs to be taken seriously

  • Data Management requires excellent Business and IT partnership

  • Data is cross-functional. It needs to be managed by cross-functional vs siloed thinkers


*The Open Group - The TOGAF® Standard, Version 9.2 > Part III: ADM Guidelines & Techniques > Architecture Principles

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