How should data ownership be established?

How should data ownership be established?

Our Advisory Team works closely with businesses to define and establish data ownership.

Data ownership is a vital part of data governance, as it lays out who is responsible for certain data assets. 

In this article, we’re looking at how data ownership can be established and why it is important for organisations to take data ownership seriously. 

Firstly, what is data ownership? 

Data ownership marks out who is responsible for certain data assets, so that they can be managed safely and effectively.

The term ‘data ownership’ refers to a data governance practice which sets out who is responsible for data within an enterprise from a legal perspective. The term is used most commonly when large organisations with huge repositories of centralised data need to define who is responsible for that data in order to manage it safely.

Data ownership formalises the responsibilities of data owners, and ensures that there are quality standards and information management principles in place across the data lifecycle.

Who can be a data owner?

Within an organisation, data citizens exist. These are employees who are given access to specific information and some of these individuals will take lead roles and become responsible for certain data assets.

Individuals and teams can be data owners, as long as they are given authorisation from the enterprise. In most cases, a data subject is also a data owner by default, meaning businesses need to give them access to data and keep them up to date with how their data is being used.

What can data owners do?

Within an organisation, and depending on the ownership rules established, data owners can:

  • Access data
  • Create data sets
  • Modify historical data sets
  • Package data
  • Sell data
  • Remove data
  • Assign data access to others
  • Allow third parties to do any of the above 

How is data ownership established?

Data ownership is a data governance practice that sets out legal ownership of company-wide data.

Step one: Auditing existing ownership

Establishing data ownership requires a firm starting point from which to adjust and grow. It is essential to assess the current ownership of data within the organisation and create an inventory of data ownership and data assets.

Step two: Establishing where there are gaps

Businesses should consider where improper data ownership has been granted, and the effects this has. It is also important to flag any unverified ownership, or incorrect ownership assignment.

Step three: Interviewing data citizens to see where ownership would be suitable

From here, you will likely have a good idea of your current data ownership set up. It is now time to utilise your most valuable asset – your people. By interviewing data owners and teams, businesses can reassess rights and privileges. 

Step four: Data ownership is established with consent from the data citizen

Last but not least, data ownership should be established with full input from data citizens. Businesses need to make data owners aware of their responsibilities, and provide ongoing training to ensure data is managed safely.

Establishing data ownership is a broad issue that every business is managing today, particularly as data and insights becomes a key enabler for business strategy.  Understanding what data ownership is, and how to implement your ownership model requires a deep understanding of your data assets, business processes and your organisational structure.  Getting assistance from data governance experts is often a critical first step in determining a cost effective and efficient approach to successful ownership initiatives. 

Learn More: 

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InfoSure Sensitive PII Data Governance Service

5 reasons why data governance initiatives fail