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Equinor’s data governance roles

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Equinor is developing a standardised way to approach data management across the company


Traditionally, oil and gas data management has had 'quite a distributed approach,' done differently in different parts of the company, said Liv Stordahl Borud, Leading Advisor Data Management, Equinor.

Ms Stordahl Borud has a role to develop the data 'network' and community in the company. She was speaking at the Society of Professional Data Managers conference in November.

In the past, responsibility for data management ultimately came down to the line managers, people responsible for overall management of different areas of the company. 'That made it hard to have a common and co-ordinated way of implementing any governance,' she said.

Now, Equinor is developing a 'data governance model,' which includes a description of roles, responsibilities and requirements for managing data in the company.

Each business department carries responsibility for managing its data and information. The 'enterprise governance' ensures that data can be moved between different parts of the company.

All of this is part of what Equinor calls a 'federated governance model' - a model defined to be used for the entire company, while different departments additionally have specialist needs to work out themselves.

The federated governance model 'provides flexibility and makes it easier to adapt to changing business conditions,' she says.

Where previously it was managed in a decentralised way, with every division going about it in its own way, now it is a combination of decentralised and centralised, she said.


Data leads

Equinor now has an appointed 'data lead' in all the main divisions of the company, such as subsurface, 'drilling and well', project development, 'operation, production and facilities', marketing and supply, supply chain, 'safety, security and sustainability,' 'technology development, digital and innovation,' 'finance and control', 'people and organisation'.

Larger divisions, such as 'operation, production and facility' have several data leads, such as a data lead for renewables and a data lead for oil and gas assets. There are 12 'data leads' at Equinor in total.

The responsibilities of a data lead are described in detailed documentation.
They have ultimate responsibility for data and are the key contact person for questions about data. They also need a good understanding of the data in their own domain.


Data steward

Another role is the 'data steward'. This is a working role, and there are many more data stewards than data leads in the company. They need to understand the framework for how data is used in the enterprise architecture.

They are responsible for implementing enterprise data governance and defining local governance if that is needed. They need to ensure data complies with any rules and manage the risks of having incorrect data.

They monitor and aim to continually improve data quality and manage data related competence and training in their department. They also co-ordinate data management, although would normally have data management staff who do the data management work.

This person also manages a portfolio of 'data products', which are then made available to other parts of the company.

A data steward can be a key contact point with business people and may be a subject matter expert. This person can have a role in translating the business needs to data requirements.

'This is a lot of tasks and a big responsibility. It will be impossible to do this alone. You need to work together with data professionals in different roles,' she said.


Other job roles

Other job roles within the 'data profession' include data lead, data manager, data steward, information manager, data architect, data engineer, data analyst, data scientist, she said.

A data manager can take responsibility for certain types of data, or responsibility for 'master' or reference data, or ensuring data is in compliance with regulations.

The information manager's role is managing documents and records, and the software solutions for that.

A data architect defines the structure of how to store data and needs really good knowledge of the data the company needs to use.


Competency development

The company may also need a framework for competency development, defining what all employees working with data should be able to do, and what 'expert' knowledge looks like. This can be different for different roles, For example the 'expert' level for a data steward is different to the expert level for an information manager.

People may pursue multiple development paths at the same time, for example building competence in multiple disciplines. There is no single path forward.



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» Equinor
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