Sunday, 30 September 2012

5 things you can do with a metadata dictionary

You may have heard that you need a metadata dictionary. Usually this comes from your analysts or technicians. But what is it, and what can you do with one?

Metadata is information about your data. At it's very basic, it could simply be a list of tables and fields with their properties. 

Metadata can be collected and interpreted in whatever way that is important to your organisation. So what can a database of this kind of information be used for?

1.  Managing change
If your metadata includes lineage tracking, then you can find out how many other systems are affected if you were to change or remove an information service.

2.  Tracing unauthorised or unplanned change
You can compare your dictionary to what is actually on your system and see if unauthorised changes have been made. If systems fail, tables can be deleted. Comparing your production environment with a metadata dictionary can find out the extent of your problems.

3.  Best source analysis
It can help to ascertain the best source of information for MI projects.

4.  Migration planning
You can use it to help plan migration projects.

5.  Tracking responsible and accountable data owners
You can name RACI colleagues for each data source so that the people are held 'Responsible' and 'Accountable' when things go wrong, or are 'Consulted' and 'Informed' when there is a problem or a system change required.

A metadata dictionary will quickly become ubiquitous for many aspects of business, from disaster recovery to data governance and change project activity.

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