You Need Effective Metadata Governance

By Bryant Duhon posted 02-06-2013 17:01



Alix Kneifel previews her AIIM 2013 roundtable session. Enjoy, and follow #AIIM and @AIIMcon for the latest info. Register today, space is limited and going fast.

Alix Kneifel
A.Kneifel and Associates

March 21 at 2

Avoiding common metadata governance pitfalls


Recently, I was at an engineering company discussing its information challenges. The company’s cost of engineering has gone up due, in part, to inefficiencies caused by time spent looking for all the engineering details (i.e., content pieces) to complete a task, make a decision, or write a proposal. The content repositories include duplicates, near duplicates, and titles that don’t match content. The company’s federated search engine searches across half a dozen systems and hundreds of repositories, but usually produces too many returns. Employees waste time validating content authenticity. It may take a day or even days to find all relevant content. These information issues are impacting the company’s competitive edge. Business opportunities are being missed and talented but frustrated young engineers are beginning to leave.

The company designed a system-agnostic metadata schema nearly 10 years ago. The committee that designed the schema was disbanded long ago and the metadata schema has never been re-evaluated. Each system owner has the responsibility to decide what metadata attributes to implement and the methods of population to use. The functional departments are responsible for maintenance and quality control. As expected, metadata use, implementation, and maintenance varies across systems and departments.

Metadata is a foundational component—a backbone, in my opinion—of good information management. It is no longer just a set of attributes that passively describe content. Today, metadata attributes are used to actively classify, filter, and present content. One of the common pitfalls of metadata is metadata without governance. If metadata is a tool to help achieve information goals, then its governance components are the reference manual and peripherals required for metadata to effectively do its job.

As with many organizations, the engineering company focused its attention on populating content with metadata. However, a governance committee didn’t exist to oversee the metadata’s overall use and effectiveness. Metadata has a defined purpose when it is aligned with a company’s information goals.  Think how much further along the engineering company would be today if 10 years ago the metadata schema included a plan for removing redundant, outdated, and trivial (ROT) content!

A metadata governance framework that includes charter, governance committee with defined accountability and responsibilities, policies, and processes for handing impacts and ambiguity relating to implementation will keep your metadata actionable and purposeful over the long-term.  A framework that is continually updated and adjusted will mature and be a more effective toolset over time for handling information problems.

Does your metadata have a purpose? Do you have a governance committee that monitors its effectiveness? I will be facilitating a roundtable session at AIIM 2013 in New Orleans that will discuss other common metadata governance pitfalls. Come join us to learn other metadata governance pitfalls to stay away from.

#metadata #AIIM2013 #governance #AIIM13 #InformationGovernance