Everything You Need to Know About a Data Dictionary

The creation and use of a data dictionary has become increasingly important, especially when it comes to the planning process. If your data is being used, interpreted, and manipulated in varying ways across your organization, it will slow down your ability to plan accurately. In this article, we'll walk through the definition of a data dictionary, why it's important when to use it, and how it helps with sales planning. 


What is a Data Dictionary?

A data dictionary is a collection of names, definitions, and attributes about data elements that are used or captured in a database, information system, or part of a research project. It describes the meanings and purposes of data elements within the context of a project and provides guidance on interpretation, accepted meanings, and representation. A data dictionary also provides metadata about data elements. The metadata included in a data dictionary assists in defining the scope and characteristics of data elements, as well as the rules for their usage and application. 

Data Dictionaries are Useful to:

  • Assist in avoiding data inconsistencies across a project
  • Help define conventions that are to be used across a project
  • Provide consistency in the collection and use of data across multiple members of a project team
  • Make data easier to analyze
  • Enforce the use of Data Standards

What are Data Standards and Do You Need Them?

Data Standards are rules that govern the way data is collected, recorded, and represented. Standards provide a commonly understood reference for the interpretation and use of data sets.

By using standards, users will know that the way their data is being collected and described is the same across different projects. Using data standards as part of a well-crafted data dictionary will help increase the usability of your data and will ensure that data will be recognizable and usable beyond the team involved with the immediate project.

Why is a Data Dictionary Important for Planning?

A data dictionary is important for any data project. In our sales planning projects, it’s a guide for understanding how and where data elements are sourced from and where that information is targeted to be utilized in the planning tool, and how that information is being utilized in the planning system.  

When Do You Need to Use a Data Dictionary?

The creation of a data dictionary is a requisite component of any assessment of a data environment.  Voiant creates data dictionaries as part of our discovery in all sales planning system assessments to uncover how data is being leveraged, where it is being used, and ensure that all data elements are within data standards. 

How Does a Data Dictionary Help with Sales Planning?

The creation of a data dictionary will help with your sales planning process in numerous ways:

  • Identifying data that is coming in from a source but not being utilized in the project
  • Reduction of model volume size
  • Identifying possible inconsistencies in data definitions
  • Identifying areas within the models where best practices are not being used
  • Identifying opportunities for optimization 
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