Metadata Management

Metadata in actual terms is defined as “a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.” Niso defines it as “structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource”. Is that how the Business stakeholders understand it?

Every organization has started embracing the benefits of understanding what a field within their hundreds of data bases really mean, where is it in the data lifecycle and does it end in this organization or elsewhere. But where they stand in maturity differs based on their capabilities(people. process, technology), inference of benefits, funding models and primarily organization culture. While working with firms, I get to realize the same cycle of cultural changes in every firm that I have been with. The change is not relaxed, but it is required today to achieve the benefits. We are looking at diverse stakeholders in an organization varying from IT, Regional Operations, Global Operations, executive leadership and Board along with diverse processes and systems that need not be in harmony (rationalized).

standardizing Metadata as a service will assist the organization in pushing or pulling the service capabilities to their needs or benefits, in an organized methodology. The current state requires emphasis to be on the service promotion activities when the cultural change of “Managing Data as an Asset” is being trickled into the organization through Grass roots. The awareness handshakes should vary based on the stakeholder groups while you wouldn’t want to pitch the word Metadata which often gives a technical flavor, to users and operational front end staff. I prefer to use “Business Terms or associated characteristics” to mean data elements and related Metadata.
Metadata Management
Metadata capture
Metadata management
Data has a lifecycle, POSMAD, (Plan, Obtain, Store/Share, Maintain, Apply, Decay) which helps us understand the lineage of the Business terms -
  • Where it comes from?
  • Which processes it applies to?
  • Who uses the Business term?
  • Which systems leverage the data element – storing, sharing, transforming and decaying?
  • Who is the data owner and the data steward?

There are multiple questions that are answered from your attributes or metamodels. This make the data landscapes as simple as a Tube map in London. The organizations can then start digitizing the same and pushing them through BYOD as well (far-fetched).

So, does Metadata have a lifecycle that needs to be aligned with Project Management, Transformation and Risk management lifecycle. But, do we have a standard framework that can facilitate the capture of these details against the business terms. I prefer to use the matrix of the Processes, Systems, Users and not to forget the data domains in which the Business terms are being leveraged in. 

What are the challenges to overcome in leveraging Metadata Management, in your organization? Are you facing some of the roadblocks as below -

1. Have you identified the Data owners or at least the SMEs who can be responsible for Business terms and can provide information about the business term with ease? How is policy and Governance poised to enforce this?

2. Do you have the Business Data stewards, who can assist with stewarding the data while also empowering the data owners and usage of this good information?

3. Are you looking at Business terms used in every region with a different name, but are you capturing the synonyms, to ease the usage, globally?

4. Is Metadata Management bridging the gap between regional operations, global operations and IT. Business Analysis is poised to enable this communication but Metadata Management comes with enablers that can push this aspect with accelerated pace.

5. Do you have a forum today where all the relevant stakeholders can be brought to a common understanding of what they understand of a business term before publishing?

6. How are you planning to assist the business self-service the good information that has been captured in the metadata repository?

7. Is Compliance taking away your maximum effort with little direction to understand why you are doing this in the first place.

8. Does your Metamodel take into consideration the aspects of Data ownership that might be impacted while also considering the policy – how many data owners can a business term have, how many can be contributor and viewers, how many Systems of truths can be defined?
Metadata governance
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The Maturity of “Business terms” definition along with technical and operational characteristics, can tell a lot about your organization more than ‘what a tea cup after emptied can tell about yourself’. It helps an auditor gauge the level of confidence that you have on your data, the ease of use that your employees have on the data. It also shows if the Business is insights driven, the level of stakeholder participation in gaining cross functional views across Business Areas that has gone into the information published. Further, it also portrays how the organization or the division understands the benefits of integrating Data related risks associated with Business requirements, Transformation and changes with related value levers like costs, credibility, effort, risks that make a difference today to your business. There is definite value trove that can be realized but it is a matter of what are the primary drivers that will make this a priority to the organization.