Picking your first use case for a successful data catalog implementation

Author: Amélie Van Hoecke

Data Library, structured

In previous articles, we talked about our approach to data governance and its importance for the organization. One of the steps that is often taken is introducing a data catalogue. The data catalogue is the organized inventory of data assets within the organization; it supports making data accessible, understandable, and trustworthy.

Yet this new tool also brings along a set of new concepts and methods that are often unknown to the people in the organization and which are quite theoretical at first. Also, it is hard to motivate employees as making the inventory of data assets is daunting. The data catalogue also brings new roles and responsibilities.

The data catalogue should be backed and accepted by the entire organization. Everyone should see and feel the urgency for it, and this is where choosing the right first use case is fundamental. Below, we have written out the steps BrightWolves uses to align all employees on the data catalogue.

How do we introduce a data catalogue?

The first use cases to showcase the importance of the catalogue should be a difficulty faced by many, something the organization immediately see the value in addressing.

For instance, at one of our clients, bad data governance led to a mismatch in revenue figures between the commercial and financial departments. Several employees knew from experience what the reason for the difference is and could fix it where needed. However, this was time-consuming and relied on knowledge that is not explicitly shared.

To introduce this problem to the employees, and ensure that they see its relevance, you should emphasize the general issues at hand. What is the root cause of this issue? What is the problem people are struggling with daily? Does it lie in the collection of data? Is the data properly understood? Is the data easily available (e.g., data that is going back and forth in emails might easily be lost)?

The choice of your first use case and its analysis are crucial - it must resonate with many of your stakeholders. But, not all use cases can be taken up at once, so a ‘divide and conquer strategy is also important. By taking it up case per case, the organization will see the immediate value and be willing to put in the effort towards setting up the data catalogue and other data governance tools.

How do we tackle this with the client?

To identify these use cases, we start by organizing workshops with multidisciplinary teams, mixing the organization’s general business employees with IT and data professionals, including management. The group should be a representation of the people that are impacted by data and especially the data challenges. During the workshop, all participants are asked to present challenges they encountered related to data. From not finding the data, to not understanding the data, or not knowing who to go to for extra information. What reports are not correct? In what tools can data be found? Who is responsible for the correctness of the data? What do certain data elements mean?

After the workshop, the input is consolidated into a roadmap for building the organization of the data governance and setting up the data catalogue. The roadmap is specifically designed to emphasize the priorities while building a sustainable setup. The data catalogue will exist out of definitions, users, and master sources to make the data understandable, accessible, and trustworthy.

Do you want to hear more about our approach, or help on how to identify your first use case? Get in touch with Amélie or Luc!