There’s no shortcut to improving your organization’s enterprise data quality. It all starts with the first step…

As businesses embark on big and small digital transformation projects, they are slowly realizing the core of their problem: They can’t trust the quality of their existing enterprise data.

According to E&Y research, the governance of data has become a board level issue today, raising significant implications on enterprise strategy, business model, IT architecture, and capital investment. As more and more businesses realize the importance of data as a strategic asset in the organization, they are in dire need of a foolproof data governance plan.

When we discussed I&I’s 3-phase data governance strategy earlier, we outlined the ways in which it helps you assess your current program (or create one if you don’t have), identify existing challenges, and implement a business-aligned data governance program.

The first phase of our approach is all about uniting under a meaningful data governance business rationale. We bring together business and IT teams to identify their needs and prerogatives. We present the consequences and pay-offs of a robust data governance program to them.

One of the key outcomes of this phase is the business data glossary.

What is a business data glossary?

It is a collection of the organization’s key data assets. Think of it as a comprehensive data address book that comprises important business terms, their definitions, and associated technical knowledge, including relational data about who owns it and how it should be used and when. It synthesizes your data and represents it in a simple, readable format.

In an ideal business world, all the companies would have all the resources and tools required to govern their organization’s data. However, this is rarely the case. Therefore, your organization should build a realistic data governance plan that fits within their resourcing structure. To do this, you must figure out the most important data to your business. A business glossary will help you do that.

Why do I need a business data glossary?

First and foremost, a business data glossary can improve data visibility in your organization. Users can search for business terms, definitions and technical metadata, to align the terminology of the business with the technology and organizational assets.

Secondly, one of the biggest challenges that companies fail to address is siloed ways of working and comprehending relevant information. A good business data glossary can help you close the infamous gap between your business and IT teams. Business and cross-functional teams can work collaboratively to make sense of the underlying data-related terms and identify roles and responsibilities associated with data to quickly correlate to applications, processes, and stewardship associated with it.

With a business glossary at the core of your data governance initiatives, you can simplify information consumption for boardroom discussions and ensure faster communication and business decision-making across the organization.

Moreover, it helps you in driving a culture where teams and individual leaders can use this data for continuous information exchange, understanding and processing to increase quality and trust within your organization.

How to create a Business Data Glossary?

Identify the key data
This is the first step to identify the scope of your data governance program required to improve data usability and access. You must gather data in the form of issues in their current system and garner expectations from each business unit as well as IT teams.

Conduct a risk assessment
Create a risk assessment of each of the data quality issues that business units and IT teams may face based on the interviews conducted and data gathered from them.

For instance, ask questions such as, what are the risks associated with this data or are there any regulatory/compliance requirements? This could define who may and may not have access to the data and informs the policy in practice of who will be allowed to see, use, or change the data elements and therefore how access rights should be granted.

Generate a data flow diagram
This diagrammatic flow will help you map how data from key segments interact with each other. For instance, many functions and units across lines of business run independently, often in silos, without any interactions with others. The data flow diagram serves as a useful exercise to identify these information gaps within your enterprise.

In this way, organizations can understand the data peripheries and general data accessibility that exist within the organization. For instance, it is possible that IT departments shouldn’t have access to specific customer data whereas sales should such that they can use it to improve customer relations.

Populate your Business Data Glossary
Map the major data elements, their sources, the individual/team accountable for the data, and the security privileges required to access the data. This way, the crucial data that has key business use for key business systems and users is appropriately owned and defined in the glossary. Moreover, it will also help you establish rules that lead to proper data management and quality, to be enforced by the data owners.

The existence of a business data glossary does not mean that all of the organization’s data problems will go away. However, when coupled with effective data governance, the business data glossary will help to enable better data access and accuracy.

To begin your organization’s data governance initiative, speak to an I&I DG consultant today.


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