Metadata is data about the data. However metadata can be a viewed in different ways. When talking about metadata from a Data governance perspective most often it is the pure technical general metadata that is referred to and not the metadata on a record level. Technical general metadata can be the field length and to what applications a field is interfaced to.
The technical general metadata will not give you the full picture of your data though. It is not until you also cover the business data about your data that you will get the full picture of where and what your master data is used to/for.
The business data about your data is for example:
• The business data definition of a field, i.e. the definition of the content of the field
• In what processes the field is used
• Where in the processes the field is used
• Business dependencies between fields
Having the complete set of your metadata will help you in many ways and it should really be mandatory for all companies.
Let’s say you have an old Mercedes SL 190 that is not running smoothly and is leaking oil. If the team at the garage can’t give you an accurate answer as to where the engine oil is used, would you trust them with the keys to your car?
If you are changing the structure or usage of your master data you have to have the complete picture in order to do an exact impact assessment. For example if you change the content of a field due to a requirement from a downstream application and you don’t have the full picture of your data, you will have to rely on trial and error. Now the question you have to ask yourself, would you do that with your Mercedes as well?