Best Practices for Functional and Technical Definitions

Best Practices for Functional and Technical Definitions

StockSnap_Y9BZYJKZ1W_symmetricclean_definitionbestpractice_BPDefinitions should eliminate confusion across the enterprise.  And they should be accessible by all that work with data.  There are two types of definitions - functional and technical.  And they are more powerful when they are tied together.  This blog post covers some of the best practices for definitions.  

Here are some functional definition best practices:

  • Have a standard (a template) for the functional definition that everyone can follow when working on the definition.  Make sure that there is a consistent approach to writing definitions. 
  • Require a specific and common name for the functional definition.  It should not be a database or technical name. This name must be unique and work across data systems.  Remember to include synonyms and alternate phrasing in the definition.
  • Refer to other definitions where possible and link to these other definitions.  And these can be technical definitions (you can have multiple technical definitions for every functional definitions).
  • Provide example values in your functional definitions including if applicable the list of valid values.
  • Include functional areas (finance, HR, etc.) in the definition so that definition ownership is known (when you know the functional area then the data steward who governs this definition is probably known).
  • Where applicable,  security classifications, privacy codes, tags, attachments and time context should be included in the definition.
  • Place the right people to do the definition writing and approval at the right time (do critical ones first).  Make sure the writers edit the definition for the perspective of the smart outsider.

Here are some technical definition best practices:

  • Have a standard (a template) for the technical definition that everyone can follow when working on the definition.
  • Refer to other definitions where possible and link to these other definitions. 
  • Provide information on how the data is retrieved or calculated for the  technical definition from a specific data system and where it is located
  • If applicable, make sure that relationship to time is specified in the definition.
  • Connect to the data model if possible and get the information to be created automatically.
  • Place the right people in the position to review the definitions at the right time (do critical ones first)

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data stewardship and data quality initiatives.   The solution has the ability to document definitions, functional and technical, and link them together.  IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.

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Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]idatainc.com.

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