Your solution to manage metadata will depend on the complexity and scale of your data sources and the variety of users and use cases you need to support. Still, below are five best practices for establishing and maintaining robust metadata management.
1. Define Your Metadata Strategy. You should start by identifying your short- and long-term use cases and the types of information you want to manage metadata for. Make sure these align with your overall business objectives and digital transformation program.
2. Define Scope and Roles. Be clear how metadata will support data analysis, data quality, data governance, and compliance needs, both now and in the future. Codify the requirements for each area and the roles of metadata managers, creators, and consumers. You’ll want to gather metadata from a wide variety of data sources, both on-premises and multi-cloud.
3. Define Policy to Ensure Quality Metadata. Your policy should ensure that metadata is consistently captured, stored and governed at the level of terms, attributes, and elements. The terms level refers to the standard business definitions and language for your organization. Attributes refers to data models, data dictionaries, or system documentation. Elements refers to database reports or tables which could come from spreadsheets, database catalogs, or data models. Be sure to include the source of your metadata in your data lineage. Adopting metadata standards such as the DoD Data Strategy will help you achieve consistent metadata interpretation with your ecosystem of vendors and partners.
4. Define Requirements for Your Tool. Once you’ve defined your strategy and scope, you’re ready to define the primary capabilities you need from your metadata management tool. For example, scalable storage and search functionality may be your top criteria.
You could also decide it’s important to take advantage of AI & ML. As stated above, active metadata management automatically profiles, tags, classifies and gives lineage information to metadata. It also makes metadata recommendations, and identifies incorrect or missing data.
5. Define Your Long-Term Program. Now that you’ve implemented your tool, be sure to get buy-in from all stakeholders across your organization to make managing metadata an on-going program and process. Then maintain regular communication with these stakeholders of your program goals and issues. Plus, you should identify metadata stewards who will implement your policies and conduct periodic audits and reviews to identify areas for improvement.