3 Keys to Managing a Data Catalog

By | January 18, 2020

Today I will answer three questions that will help you to get traction, and succeed with your metadata initiatives.

  • 1. What are the key elements needed?
  • 2. Where does metadata fit in?
  • 3. How to get started?

Knowing the answers to these three questions can literally pay big dividends for your organization. With a modest budget, a good starting point, and a clear idea of the problem you are trying to solve. You can be successful in establishing a metadata management program for your company.

#1 You need buy-in , budget, and timeframe.

This does not necessarily mean you need to boil the Atlantic Ocean. What about a smaller initiative to get things started? A novel idea. The alternative is a high risk of failure. Or even worse, a project that suffers from the inertia of never getting of the ground in the first place.

#2 Where does metadata management it fit in?

  • A client of mine stated “It scares me what might be involved to do a better job managing all this metadata, but it scares me more what will happen if we don’t!”
  • Perception that our systems are special or too complex.
  • Who is going to maintain all of this?
  • Negativity.
  • Industry has a way of complicating the issue… (metadata metadata…theorists)

Taxonomy + Ontology = Zoology

Again, where do we get started? Do we need to comply with the most sophisticated theories out there? Is having basic metadata impact analysis a good value for low cost and quick turn-around? Is this not a good place to start?

Identify a pain point and solve that pain only. This is the best place to start. To identify where the metadata fits in requires only one thing, identify a problem you are trying to solve.

#3 How to get started?

  • Trying to define an elaborate set of roles and in doing so introducing a whole new strain of resource requirements and terminologies. Don’t over-complicate.
  • Keep it simple (to start).
  • Phased approach.
  • The whole idea is to know what you have and where it is!
  • Interviewing individuals, having them describe their job including the systems and tools they use should make it possible to make deductions about the role metadata plays in their job.
  • Should be driven by a business need. What is the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Pilot projects tend to be much more successful, and provide a good foundation for future expansion into other business areas in a phased manner.
  • Find a project like DQ, MDM or DG and roll up metadata initiative as a part of the greater project. This is a win/win.

Finding the Bigger Project

  • Find a project which needs or even better can be driven by metadata management.
  • Should be easier to define scope and problem definition.
  • Budget already there.
  • Example: ETL Tool will transform our data to the data warehouse, will need several consultants to do the work. All part of data warehouse project.
  • Data Governance and compliance project. metadata is a part of that and should be underwritten as such.
  • Carve out part of the bigger project to manage the metadata for the project.
  • Consider funding small pilot projects.

Today I identified the three main aspects that will help you to better approach your metadata management initiatives.

  • What are the key elements needed?
  • Where does the metadata fit in?
  • How to get started by staying focused for the win?


Remember that a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve holds the key; and that you will probably be more likely to integrate metadata management in your company by finding a project to which metadata is an integral part. Example : Master Data – Customer Data focus.