Data Ownership

Our guest author, Alistair Rooney, discusses the important topic of Data Ownership...

It’s almost inconceivable these days, that there are any organizations who do not have some form of data management or data governance in place. Yet most of the companies that we consult to, have little or frankly, none of these.

The most fundamental aspect of “Data as an Asset” is that someone should be accountable for the data. If you doubt for a minute that data is an asset, a tangible monetized asset, do a google search for companies’ customer lists. Rarely will these company’s sell this information to you but third parties are willing to sell you the list for thousands of dollars.

Electing or appointing a custodian or steward from the business for the Customer Master (exampli gratia) means that you take your data seriously. If you are a sales-oriented company, and most are, the list of your customers should be a prized and coveted piece of information.

On more than one occasion I have joined an ongoing project to assist with their data migration. This normally means I am too late to effectively turn it around, due to the simple fact that the business has simply not been involved. Data migration is erroneously seen as a purely technical task. If you look at Johnny Morriss’s seminal work “Practical Data Migration” you will find some universal truths.

Johnny calls these the “golden rules”.

The first of which is this: Data Migration is a business issue. The technical part of data migration is important, of course, but the data does not belong to you. You (the data migration team) are merely a pipe to transport, transform, enrich and aggregate data. You do not determine the mapping rules, you facilitate their development. You do not sign-off data. You are not the data experts, no matter how much you think you are.

Which leads me to golden rule number 2. The business knows best.

The best way to handle this is the assignment of Data Owners before the project starts. This ensures business involvement, ensure they are stakeholders and have a vested interest in the successful migration of their data.

About the author

Alistair Rooney
Alistair Rooney

Alistair Rooney has over 30 years in the industry, of which 11 years were spent working for SAP Consulting as a Principal Consultant. Alistair is currently an independent consultant on Development and Data Migration with an SAP Partner. Alistair has collaborated on several books and is the Author of “Foundations of Java for ABAP Programmers”.

Contact Alistair at

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