Data governance is quite a hot topic these days, with more people becoming sensitized to the importance of establishing policies regarding the meaning and management of business information and the way that it is processed, updated and transformed. We think of a metadata management program as the articulation of those policies and the measurement of how effectively those policies are applied, as well as the description of the state of the enterprise’s data assets. Doing so leads us to the conclusion that implementing a program to manage metadata is foundational to the process of data governance.

When we talk about data governance and metadata, we are fond of talking about getting to the single source of the truth. In the undertaking of a data governance program, how shall we start looking for that truth? We could start by establishing a data governance committee or task force and asking this group to establish policies, define business entities and create rules about relationships between them. These are important tasks, but once we complete them, we have to apply the results to our systems. This approach could begin without any basis of information that describes the “as-built” or “as-is” environment, so it could only proceed in a relatively abstract fashion. Management is not typically so fond of abstraction; reference to existing conditions and how implementation of a program is going to impact existing conditions and produce bottom line results is usually required.

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