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Metadata Standards

Improve efficiency with David Bowman’s information management guidelines for metadata standards

This site is designed for Information Technology professionals who need  to improve efficiency and require guidance and direction to help teams implement metadata.

It provides information management guidelines for metadata standards to establish consistent, complete and authoritative documentation for the understanding, interpretation and communication of data.

What is Metadata?

Metadata is data describing, or specifying, other data or defining, and organizing, characteristics that need to be known about data, including (but not limited to) information about physical data representations, technical and business processes, rules and constraints, and data structures.

Metadata is a key enabler for realizing the objective of information management and has touch points throughout each enterprise information management architecture discipline e.g.
  • The data design discipline will populate the repository with entity and attribute definitions;
  • Technical metadata will include information about where (in which databases) specific tables are stored;
  • Analytic data access tools (OLAP tools) will make use of the business metadata to provide entity and attribute definitions to the end user; and
  • Data movement processes will access business metadata to retrieve validation and transformation rules to be applied during the ETL processes.
What Are Metadata Standards?

Sound metadata management practices ensure that information needed to support management and business intelligence decision making is accurate, accessible, complete, consistent, timely, valid and relevant and assists in maintaining high integrity over production data.

Types of Metadata
  • Application metadata, provides information about systems, including application names, interfaces, databases and tables linked to the application, business and information technology owners and other known entities;
  • Business metadata, is a specific type of metadata that provides related definitions, valid values and business rules within the context of the organization’s goals;
  • Organizational metadata, is a specific type of metadata that describes people and their relationships to data and process;
  • Physical metadata, is specific type of metadata that documents the structures in data stores. It includes data elements (column or field) as well as element groups (table, view, file), structure groups (database or file group), indices and keys;
  • Technical metadata, is a specific type of metadata that includes data location and types, how to access data, data lineage and data movement within Information Technology. Technical metadata also includes physical metadata, transformational metadata and application metadata; and
  • Transformational metadata, is a specific type of metadata that describes the movement, computation or modification of data elements.
Metadata Standards Guidelines

Application Metadata Standards
  • Should be owned by an Information Technology owner who should maintain application metadata, including technical and physical metadata;
  • Should specify who maintains the application i.e. Information Technology owner;
  • Should specify who maintains the database i.e. production database administrator;
  • Should specify who is responsible for change control;
  • Should specify what the data looks like e.g. logical/physical data models;
  • Should specify what the data means e.g. table/column definitions, and sample data;
  • Should specify what the data profile looks like e.g. for each table and column, the number of rows, min/max values, distinct values;
  • Should specify what interfaces feed into and feed out of the application;
  • Should specify where the data originates from i.e. system of record;
  • Should specify where the data is stored e.g. server, database name and IP address;
  • Should specify where the data goes to e.g. downstream systems/application;
  • Should specify where the data is archived including near and off-site storage;
  • Should specify when the data is updated; backed-up, archived or stored off-site; and
  • Should specify how data is moved between applications e.g. transfer mechanisms.
Business Metadata Standards
  • Should be owned by a business owner who should maintain business metadata, including business rules, organizational metadata and transformational metadata;
  • Should specify who owns the data e.g. data guardian and who is responsible for maintaining the data e.g. data steward;
  • Should describe what the data means i.e. entity, attribute definitions;
  • Should provide sample data;
  • Should specify where the data comes from i.e. how is it collected;
  • Should specify where the data is stored i.e. application system;
  • Should specify when data is collected i.e. OLTP, daily feed, monthly feed; and 
  • Should specify how is it used e.g. management information, marketing analytics.
Policies and Standards
  • Metadata standards and best practices should be established;
  • Processes should be defined to specify how metadata is  maintained e.g. additions, deletions and modifications;
  • Processes should be established to move data model metadata to the corporate metadata repository;
  • Metadata should be adequately controlled and documented in an approved and published metadata repository and metadata back-up/restore procedures should be established;
  • Metadata users should be assigned appropriate access rights and privilege;
  • Metadata should be stored in an approved enterprise metadata repository that complies with an approved information technology standards list;
  • Security standards should include provision for preventing unauthorized access to the metadata repository;
  • Data quality objectives and measurements should be included in metadata repositories;
  • Project management plan should specify metadata tasks and deliverables and a responsible, approve, consult, inform (RACI) matrix;
  • Project management plans and project quality management plans should  include provision for metadata quality assurance reviews and approvals; 
  • Accountabilities for each key role involved in metadata management should be defined and communicated to all stakeholders;
  • The release management process should include provision for migrating metadata to production; and
  • The change management methodology should ensure that changes to metadata follow a documented and approved change management process.
Summary...

Metadata is data describing, or specifying, other data or defining, and organizing, characteristics that need to be known about data, including (but not limited to) information about physical data representations, technical and business processes, rules and constraints, and data structures.

This site provided information management guidelines for metadata standards to establish consistent, complete and authoritative documentation for the understanding, interpretation and communication of data.