The case for a data catalog is a very simple one: your organization can’t benefit from definitions, assigned ownership, lineage, and other metadata they can’t see. An easy-to-use platform to catalog reports, dashboards, metrics, databases, etc., is largely accepted as a requirement for making the best use of your healthcare information assets.
However, like any software tool, a data catalog can’t create positive change all on its own. There are a few things that we’ve found to be essential for any organization to commit to, along with a data catalog, for true enterprise data governance success.
Your ultimate goal should be to give everyone, technical and non-technical alike, a full view of all the data, analytics, and reports that exist at your organization, along with what they contain, what things mean, and how to access them. Remember, this isn’t providing access to the data itself, but rather information about the data (and reports, etc.). So if your first instinct is to figure out how to restrict who can see what, then you’re missing the point. This is about visibility into what exists and transparency in metadata.
As you consider data catalog options, here are some key things to think about if you truly want enterprise data governance to take hold:
- Data governance must be a team sport. Identify, train, and deputize data stewards from across the organization to manage data in which they have subject matter expertise. This leads to accuracy of metadata and broad buy-in for the data governance program.
- Facilitating data governance must not be a team sport. Avoid “everybody but nobody” syndrome by making data governance and data literacy part of at least one person’s job description in order to facilitate data stewardship, and to “mind the store” of enterprise data governance on a daily basis.
- Make curation part of the plan. Automate as much cataloging and metadata generation as possible, but understand that without intentional organizing and categorizing (aka “curation”) by data stewards and data governance facilitators, widespread adoption of the data catalog won’t happen.
- Drive traffic to the data catalog. The best way to ensure accuracy of information in your data catalog is to get as many eyeballs on that information as possible. However, because people don’t browse metadata for fun in their free time, you’ll need to actively market the data catalog to your organization. Make “Did you check the Compendium*?” a common phrase. Even better, build the data catalog into regular workflow — users will discover helpful metadata in the process. Here are some examples of how to do that:
- Make the data catalog the report portal so users have to go to it to get to their reports, dashboards, etc.
- Embed the link for data and report requests into the data catalog so users get into the habit of checking the catalog first to see if what they need already exists before submitting a request for something new to be built
- Use the data catalog to post status updates on things your data consumers care about, such as completion of data loads, dashboard and metric refreshes, data steward knowledge-sharing, etc.
*or other, inferior, data catalog product
Based on our experience with healthcare organizations over the years, we could make many other recommendations to ensure effective enterprise data governance processes at your organization. However, these are truly the critical success factors. Without them, your data governance program will never get off the ground, and your data catalog investment will struggle to show value. If you’re committed, but unsure how to make it happen, never fear! We are here to help! Let’s talk.