Published in TDAN.com February 2007
Every year, after the Wilshire Conference’s Award for Meta-Data Best Practices is announced, it has become a regular practice to provide a brief question & answer session with the winner of the award and to share that session with the TDAN.com readers.
On January 1, Wilshire Conferences and The Data Administration Newsletter (as Co-Sponsors of the Wilshire Award) proudly announced the 2006 Award winner as the Bank of Montreal (BMO).
The two gentlemen that submitted the entry for BMO, participated in the judging process and are the leaders of BMO’s best practices for meta-data management, are Ron Klein and Wayne Harrison.
Ron & Wayne recently shared some brief insight into the success of their meta-data solutions.
Robert S. Seiner Publisher, The Data Administration Newsletter, LLC President & Principal, KIK Consulting & Educational Services, LLC
This brief Q&A was recently held with Ron Klein and Wayne Harrison of the Bank of Montreal, the 2006 Wilshire Award Winner.
Seiner: Ron and Wayne, Congratulations on being selected the 2006 Wilshire Award winner! Please tell me what the response was at BMO when you got the news and tell me what impact it has had on your meta-data program.
Klein & Harrison: When we first heard it, we were so excited that we wouldn’t stop talking about it. Then, as the news went across our organization we started to get all the attention from executives and kudos from colleagues and industry peers.
Seiner: I see that, as the award winner, you will be giving a presentation at the 2007 Wilshire Conferences Meta-Data Conference and DAMA International Symposium in Boston this year. Can you give us a sneak peak as to what you will cover in your session?
Klein & Harrison: The presentation is about our Information Management Strategy. As we walkthrough the strategy we will highlight the Metadata Management contribution. It covers: the landscape for governance and metadata management; how metadata, stewardship and governance work together; the value proposition for metadata management and how the data warehousing practice at BMO FG uses metadata.
Seiner: Please tell us what your involvement was in the meta-data work that has been completed at BMO.
Klein & Harrison: Ron got involved since early 2003 with a role to establish the early processes within the development life cycle and support major Data Warehouse projects. Later I became the team leader responsible for all the Bank’s Enterprise Metadata initiatives.
Wayne has joined the group in 2000 as the Metadata Architect with the responsibility of defining and implementing the metadata approach for the Bank.
Seiner: What types of resources did you have at your disposal early in the program and then as the program progressed?
The initial group was composed by the Architect, a Technical Specialist and a Developer/Administrator.
Seiner: What level of sponsorship/management support did the meta-data work have and how did you arrive at that level of sponsorship?
Klein & Harrison: Our vision for managing metadata as an integrating asset derived from the vision of a senior executive who championed the key role metadata has in the overall success of information management.
Seiner: How and when did you know that the time was right to start on a meta-data solution for BMO? How did you assess your organization’s business and technical requirements for meta-data management?
Klein & Harrison: The key drivers are the Bank’s business initiatives, internal governance, and compliance requirements, since all increasingly depend upon the availability of quality information.
The initial goal was to leverage metadata to improve the effectiveness of three major areas of information technology within BMO FG: data warehouse life cycle, operational systems, and new application development / reporting applications. The cornerstone driver was the business initiative to create a book of record for customer information, supporting our customer-centred business goals that triggered our business and technical requirements.
Seiner: Who are the users of the meta-data in your repository and what steps do you take to solicit feedback from them as to how effectively the resource is meeting their need?
Klein & Harrison: The direct users of the repository include business and technical users of various kinds:
- Marketing business users search and find metadata items to support their work on business intelligence and data analysis.
- Internal auditors and analysts trace the meaning and derivation of business terms back to source.
- Data architects act as providers of metadata (data models) and benefit from the ability to search across all available models, mainly when dealing with common code tables.
- Business analysts and business consultants benefit from the ability to reuse business names and corresponding definitions to reduce redundancy during the requirements gathering phase of
projects. The repository allows them to use standardised data.
- Requirements managers use the search and scoping function to better understand the subject areas affected by a specific project.
Feedback is obtained through small group’s sessions where usage and content discussion takes place. Their results orient our plans for improvements.
Seiner: What were some of the toughest issues/tasks that BMO faced during the development of your meta-data program? What did you find to be particularly easy (or simple to accomplish) about the development of the program?
Klein & Harrison: Prior to 2006, we had metadata standards for ETL and data models, but we had problems with execution, e.g., Artefacts missing, little accountability for metadata quality, different local practices driving costs, no common process. BMO IT introduced in 2006 a program to obtain CMMI certification that provides us with a number of key benefits to metadata delivery:
- Clear ownership of the processes and deliverables
- Change management process for the SDLC process and its templates.
- Escalations for quality issues, and root cause analysis
- Uniformly applicability to all projects in the IM organization
Nothing is really easy in Metadata, but the strong support and collaboration of the various teams involved and their incentive made the challenge possible to accomplish.
Seiner: What is the future direction for BMO’s meta-data program?
Klein & Harrison: Monitoring and reporting requirements, as they evolve, will lead to a larger emphasis on our operational source system metadata. Metadata Technology renewal will begin late 2007 and extend into 2008 among other activities.
Seiner: Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for those organizations that are just embarking on a meta-data initiative?
Klein & Harrison: Our recommendation is to look for simple tools in the market place that has the necessary requirements for your initial implementation. Also consider a core team with diversity skills with strong a solid experience in their expertise.
Seiner: Ron and Wayne, Thank you very much for participating in the Wilshire Award in 2006. I think I can speak for the Judges when I say that it was a pleasure reviewing your submission and working with you throughout the judging of the award. Best of luck for continued success for you and your meta-data program.