Building & Maintaining a Master Data Dictionary

Building & Maintaining a Master Data Dictionary

What is a Master Data Dictionary?

A master data dictionary is the authoritative document containing the agreed upon definitions of all the key metrics for an organization. In an ideal world, any metrics being used by more than one person at an organization would be documented in the data dictionary.

Why do You Need One?

A central repository of true and agreed upon definitions of key metrics means your goals will have the same definition across teams, your conversations with investors will be consistent, and your analytical cycle time will be reduced.

At Magento Business Intelligence, we pride ourselves on being data driven. So it's no surprise that a large number of us create our own reports to guide decision making on a daily basis. As a result, we inevitably realized we were sometimes defining the same metric differently across teams. Additionally, as we continued to use data to improve our processes, we sometimes failed to update existing definitions of metrics, leading to inaccurate and inconsistent internal data.

For example, when measuring the customer satisfaction of interactions with our support team, one person was excluding cases where the customer did not provide feedback, while another was considering that a negative response. This led to very different interpretations, numbers, and goals for customer satisfaction among our team. Having a master data dictionary has empowered our team to continue to build their own reports while ensuring consistency and accuracy across the company.

Okay, so I've convinced you that you need a data dictionary, now what?

How Can You Get Started?

With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that the key ingredients to creating a successful master data dictionary are:

Who do You Need to Keep in Mind?

It's important to customize the final product to ensure that it's easily accessible by any group within or outside of your organization that is potentially impacted by metric definitions. This may include:

This should be enough to get you started! In the next (and final) part of this series, I'll dive deeper into the actual structure of a master data dictionary. While the structure is dependent on the types of metrics, users, and industry of your business, I'll provide some tips and examples from our experience.

About Akash

Akash graduated from the University of Arizona (with its warm and comfortable weather). After college, he worked on a wildly inaccurate poker-playing bot in an attempt to analyze human behavior and then took it upon himself to change the world using data. Akash is an avid follower of international politics and Manchester United.