Building an Enterprise Data Catalog: 5 Critical Strategies

Nilesh Khandvey • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Data Catalog FI

Even if you work for a Small to Intermediate business with only a half-dozen engineers to handle it all from new product enhancements to your CICD work flowchart, or a Mid-market Corporation with 650 workers wanting to enter a new market, you probably don’t have much time.

However, you’ll certainly have coworkers questioning you what the data means, where it came from, and when it’ll be loaded. You’ll almost certainly be inquiring yourself “what was the Data Stream in that Pipeline I developed last year”?

It will result in you searching for methods to organize and share your knowledge. This is where a Data Catalog comes into the picture and it is all that you’ll need!

Table of Contents

What is a Data Catalog?

Data Catalog: Impact of Data Catalog
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A Data Catalog is a complete list of an organization’s information assets, along with methods for maintaining them. It not only lists but also explains the information.

Furthermore, the Data Catalog contains all of the information found in your database system. It includes database and table names, column names, column descriptions, and access privileges.

A Data Catalogue represents all of the data in your company, from all origins and retrieval. It is used to manage the data and access it. These are important tools for making sure that your data is very well organized. They form the foundation for establishing a Strong Data Culture.

Although these take time to build from the bottom up, they provide an immense opportunity to identify products that don’t effectively drive your business forward. This is a privilege that most organization teams don’t have.

Why do we Need a Data Catalog?

Data Catalog: Capabilities of a Data Catalog
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In BI and Business Analysis, data exploration and information management are important concerns.

With the rising acceptance of Big Data and AI, an increasing number of individuals are equipped with skills to execute Data Analysis, Machine Learning, and develop relevant content. This necessitates the need for data, analytical information exchange, and cooperation.

A Data Catalog is critical for business users. It combines all of the facts about an organization’s information assets from numerous data dictionaries into a clear, easy-to-understand format.

Data Catalogues must be established and maintained over months, if not years, as part of data administration. Data comes in a variety of forms and formats, each of which must be collected and represented in its original format. Further, each team’s users acquire and use data in their way.

The most difficult of all is to populate a Data Catalog with enough information to make it relevant. This can be a long and complicated process. 

Through this article, we’ll direct you to the most essential aspects to look for in a Data Catalog for your team. This will enable you to Construct a Data Catalog that reflects your company and your users. With only a little effort, you can help your team better control data, enhance metadata accessibility, self-sufficiency, and communicate data knowledge more efficiently.

Data Catalog: Importance of a Data Catalog
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Ways to Create a Compelling Data Catalog

Data Catalog: Data Catalog Reference Model Review
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1) Take Notes of the Information

When you’re planning to create a Data Catalogue and need to collect your data, you’ll need to address the following questions:

“What information should be captured? What kind of metadata should be recorded, and how should it be captured?

Let’s find the answer for each one by one.

The very first step in developing a Data Catalog is to establish it with your data’s format, structure, and semantics. A majority of data users, such as Data Analysts, Data Engineers, and Business Analysts, refer to data in the context of the schema, or table, in which it is stored.

Users commonly refer to data in terms of schemas, or tables, since they represent entities. It’s easy for them to discuss how a lead becomes a customer and how a customer makes one or more purchases.

A well-designed Data Catalog should accept all sorts of schemas, not just tables, and should allow interactions between schemas.

Lastly, Data Lineage must be captured by any Data Catalogue. Users may understand where data came from and where it’s going using Data Lineage; this is important for giving context, which users frequently want when working with data.

2) Allocate Owners and Contact Points

Once you have relevant data in your Data Catalogue, you’ll need to figure out who the Key Players are for each data asset. It’s critical to allocate owners to your information assets for two main reasons:

  • It tells users who to contact if they have any inquiries.
  • It assigns responsibility to make sure the accuracy and completeness of documents.

Although a Data Catalogue might have a variety of owners (for example, data stewards, analytical owners, corporate executives, administrative owners, and so on), the Data Custodian and Technical Owner are the most significant.

The Database Administrator should make it clear to your users who to contact for any business-related data, while the technical owner will be able to address their more technical queries.

When building a Data Catalogue, give duties to your owners. These tasks will guarantee that your Data Catalog is adequately documented and valuable to your peers.

It’s vital to realize that your Data Catalogue doesn’t immediately provide value to your company; rather, it helps your staff be more productive. Tasks created by your Data Catalogue should be aligned with this.

The tasks must be focused solely on assisting you in getting the most out of your data. Tasks should not be created with the intent of directly driving interaction within the Data Catalogue.

3) Keep a Record of your Team’s Expertise

The volume of information you’ll want to record when you begin documenting your data in a Data Catalogue might seem daunting at first. Don’t panic, not everything in your Data Catalogue needs to be completely described to receive the maximum benefit!

Begin by selecting a single approach and gradually adding documentation over time to achieve a specific level of coverage.

To allow users to highlight critical points, every data asset should be able to have Rich-text Documentation inside the Data Catalogue. Users should be able to organize assets into common sets in Data Catalogues, and one typical approach to achieve this is by labelling your data.

Data Documentation is most effective when your Data Catalogue allows your users to conduct discussions with and about your data.

For every question that a user has regarding the data, the question, its answer, and the discussion that led to the answer should all be documented in the catalog. It should further include the specific query, response, and communication. 

4) Maintain the Accuracy of your Data Catalog

Keeping your Data Catalogue up to date might be difficult. Your Engineers presumably frequently change the layout of databases and create new Pipelines weekly.

Similarly, your Data Scientists and Business Analysts are almost certainly producing data cubes or transferring data across analytical systems to produce new dashboards regularly. Wherever feasible, your Data Catalogue should be able to detect these changes automatically and update itself accordingly.

A Data Catalogue can only do so much to guarantee that it is current on its own, hence, certain user inputs are required to double-check the information’s reliability and lack of variety.

When your Data Catalogue detects that the underlying documentation is old or obsolete, it may employ governance actions to prompt your users to take action.

5) Improve your Team’s Performance

Every company’s approach to using a Data Catalog will be different. You must establish guidelines and team norms for how your company will use the Data Catalogue.

The way your team intends to utilize the Data Catalogue will have a significant impact on how you prepare documentation. Thus, if you don’t know how your team intends to use the Data Catalogue, the time you spend documenting your knowledge is likely to provide unsatisfactory outcomes.

Here are a few things your team can do to make your interactions with a Data Catalogue run more smoothly:

  • Set uniform documentation formats for all of your databases, schemas, fields, and data provenance, and stick to them.
  • Identify essential learning plans (for example, new associate onboarding) and assign a consistent theme to the assets that are included in each learning plan.
  • For the Data Catalogue to become firmly established in your Data Culture, reinforce your team’s conventions on how you utilize it.


The value of a Data Catalogue is determined by the individuals who use it and the information they input. Keep in mind to provide feedback to your developers or the business that offers the catalog, whether you’re using an off-the-shelf solution or creating your own.

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After all, the value of a company is based on its data. Data encryption, role-based security, and audit logs that demonstrate who accessed what data and when should all be included in your Data Catalog.

Once you’ve implemented the Data Catalog, be sure you provide training to everybody who could use it and make the training materials available as documentation.

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