Data Quality Responsibilities at All Levels

Data Quality Responsibilities at All Levels

Building a culture that fosters data quality is the job of everyone in your higher education institution, from front line staff in various functional departments such as admissions and advancement to the executive management members. It’s easy to talk about improving data quality at your higher education institution. You have meetings, slide decks, and memos about data quality. But action is different as it requires key people in your organization to step up and make a difference. Who are these key players? Well, put simply, it is everyone who touches or reviews data. Each role must work independently and in collaboration to improve data quality. If you see a data quality issue (or suspect one) then fix it if a simple database change or communicate the issue. And then when asked, take the appropriate action.



Data Quality Roles and Responsibilities

There are many important roles at higher education institutions that are involved in data quality including:

1. Front-line Staff (data entry folks or consumers of reports / dashboards) – A front-line data entry staff person tries to make sure every ounce of pertinent data is entered, quickly and correctly but data entry errors do occur. Everyone is busy and remembering to select every drop-down field, fill out every text field, or fill in every radio button on the appropriate screen takes time. Or when reviewing reports or dashboards looking for data quality issues requires a certain knowledge. Front-line staff personnel need to be responsible for their own data. Data quality responsibilities for front-line staff includes:

  • Report data quality issues when seen, in the appropriate process.
  • Identify where changes can be made that increase data quality.
  • Work with data stewards or IT staff on software changes, quality rules, process changes, etc. that will enhance data quality.

2. Data Stewards (change makers) - Data stewards are individuals who are the most knowledgeable on data quality in their department or business unit. Data quality responsibilities for data stewards includes:

  • Work with front-line staff, managers and IT staff on resolving data quality issues
  • Define and adjust a set of rules in the form of policies, standards, requirements, guidelines, or data definitions that will aid in data quality.
  • Own the data in their individual business units and departments as well as take responsibility for their team's successful data quality efforts.
  • Provide data quality training when appropriate.

3. Managers of Front-line Staff (consumers and managers) – As the manager of the front-line staff they provide a variety of responsibilities including making sure that the front-line staff is focused on data quality. Data quality manager responsibilities include:

  • Review reports and dashboards looking for data quality issues.
  • Coach front-line staff on data quality including providing practical examples.
    • Listen to front-line staff feedback on data quality including suggestions for improvement.
  • Work with data stewards, upper management, IT staff and front-line staff on data quality issue resolution and data quality rules including formulating enhanced processes and necessary software changes.
  • Reminding front-line staff of data quality importance.

4. Upper Management (mergers of information) - Upper management individuals are more than just a coordinator, pulling in data from disparate sources and collating reports. They are the center for this collaborative process. They provide insights that could be difficult for others to identify themselves, pushing everyone forward. Data quality responsibilities for upper management includes:

  • Inform and work with data stewards and managers where data quality is currently lacking and suggestions on improvements.
  • Make sure right resources are in place to assist with data quality.

5. Executive Team (strategy makers) - The executive team is involved in data quality, especially by instilling a culture of great data quality. If they make data quality a priority, it will be a priority all the way down the line. Data quality responsibilities for executive team members include:

  • Provide approval for the necessary resources (people, processes, content and tools) for data quality.
  • Create the high-level data quality strategy for the higher education institution and stressing the necessary data quality culture.

6. IT Folks (maintainers and fixers) - There are those in the IT Department, who besides keeping servers and software running, have data quality responsibilities including:

  • Maintain tools, such as the Data Cookbook, that are used to assist with data quality including data quality incident tracking, maintaining data quality rules and documenting data quality assessments.
  • Work with functional departments to resolve data quality issues which could include fixing import scripts, modifying code and going into the database to make changes.

What Should Be Done
Here are a few data quality people related items that should be done:

  • Train your staff on data governance and data quality
  • Verify that everyone understands their data quality responsibility
  • Make sure that data stewards are in place to assist with data quality
  • Ensure that the data quality tools and processes are in place for the staff to use

As shown, data quality issues are generally addressed by several individuals. Front line staff work as instigators of better data quality, managers / data stewards are enablers of better data quality, and upper management / executive team are drivers of better data quality. And the IT Department staff assists when necessary. It is a team effort, with everyone working in collaboration. Data quality issues must go through the appropriate process and get to the necessary individuals involved so the issues can be resolved as soon as possible.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the institution in its data governance and data quality initiatives. IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.

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(image credit StockSnap_POB90VJWHJ_DataQualityPeople_BP #1080)

Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]

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