Hardrock Case Study

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We want you to practice a business summary style – writing in a clear, structured manner, but not in paragraph form. If you feel you must write in a paragraph, then address the question at hand in bullets or tables (as appropriate) and then summarize your points in an executive summary-type paragraph. In general, you are attempting to efficiently and effectively make your arguments for a particular solution, describe the associated implementation tasks (“to dos”), identify the benefits and costs of the undertaking, and then drive your point home with additional considerations (risk management).

In this course we will use the term “metadata” (literally: “data about data”) in different ways, but from a DBMS design standpoint metadata describes each database data element and (when used by designers properly) helps ensure every data element’s integrity. Metadata is essential for the quality and integrity of a database and should be found in a document referred to as a “data dictionary” (documentation of data elements in the database).

  • Metadata for data elements include:
  • a business definition of the data element; what it means in usage within the organization.
  • the field type (e.g. text, numeric, data, currency, memo, etc.)
  • the number of characters allowed in that field (e.g. data of birth = 8)
  • special format requirements (e.g. for US phone number: (617) 373-7288)
  • valid values that define and restrict the options for data entry (e.g. for “gender” allowing a response of only “M” or “F”)
  • business rules (e.g. the amount of sales tax to enter into a field depending upon the state in the US or the province in Canada where the sale took place)
  • ownership for data entry (i.e., what business unit is responsible for input/capture)

At a minimum, a definition and any formatting or input constraints should be provided in any metadata documentation. Not all data elements require all of the aforementioned components of a metadata attributes. For example, the data element “customer last name” requires a business definition, but does not require a fixed number of characters or a format – whereas the “creation date” of an insurance policy initiation would require all three. Metadata adds rigor to the collection of data within a database and helps ensure that the business process and its enabling information system collect the highest quality of data. Later in the course we will discuss the value of metadata in facilitating data/system integration efforts.

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