Documenting at report level vs data source level?

Jeff Albro

Documenting at report level vs data source level?

Question for my fellow data professionals:

I'm feeling more and more that heavy documentation for *reports* is in indication that there hasn't been enough documentation of *data*. I figure if your metadata is solid (business glossary, data dictionary, data model) then you can skimp on or skip the report docs and requirements. Heck, I figure you should be able to show up in the client's office and just build the report *with* them with no requirements, as long as the business questions match the grain of the dimensional model.

Am I wrong?

-Jeff

Ray Diaz, CBIP, CDP, CSM, ICP-ATF

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to Jeff Albro)

Jeff, The importance of the report also plays into the decision if it should be documented. There are operational and analytical reports that are very important to the business in making decisions that are impactful to performance. I would consider documenting them, especially the ones that have important calculations. 

 

Having a quality data catalog can be a real help since they can connect and ingest the metadata to document the reports. An example:

https://marketplace.collibra.com/listings/catalog-tableau-integration/

Jeff Albro

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to Ray Diaz, CBIP, CDP, CSM, ICP-ATF)

Thanks for the reply Ray!  Agreed on the need for documenting the most important reports.

But shouldn't the most important reports pull from a well documented data source, such as a general ledger transaction table?  Sure, if you build some new measures in Tableau, you will want to pull those back into your metadata repository.  But shouldn't the majority of the field definitions already be *in* the repository?

Ideally, you could push those definitions into Tableau.   I know this is possible manually, but not sure if it is possible automatically.  

Laura Kostyo

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to Jeff Albro)

I think you must document most reports, stating with the highly used or most impactful first.   There are numerous reasons for this a few examples:  1. Some reports are coming from the data warehouse and have several calculations from various stages of DW work included.  The users should have an easy place to find all these changes than tracing back to several documents.  2. Some our reports require integrating several tables of data to find a join it becomes too complicated for the average user to identify.  3. Many of our applications are not truly integrated and must resort to numerous steps to join data.  There are lots of twists and turns when doing analytics.

Ray Diaz, CBIP, CDP, CSM, ICP-ATF

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to Jeff Albro)

Jeff, unless you have a pristine data source and most don't. Complex reports and dashboards have lots of internal properties and calculations that are really not found in the raw data. 

These BI objects are extensions of the data and so having just a well documented data repository (lake, warehouse, ODS...) and even data models are highly lacking compared to well documented reports and dashboards. This documentation builds confidence in the information and the documentation can be shared as metadata so that more people want to use the great BI objects you have created.

Imagine having this type of reports and dashboards documentation illustrated on this blog page from Collibra. Wow! 

https://www.collibra.com/blog/driving-trust-catalog-reports/

William McKnight

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to Jeff Albro)

You're not wrong. Data in the source for reports should be cultivated to the point where it's very easy to use. Reporting is still necessary but should be making up a smaller percentage of the use of the data with reports being more easy come, easy go. I don't want to burden the usage of the data.

Jeff Albro

RE: Documenting at report level vs data source level?
(in response to William McKnight)

Thank you for the feedback everyone!

-Jeff