Data Lineage – Basic Elements to Understand

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Data lineage provides vital information about when the data was created and about its current status. It’s especially helpful to companies with sensitive data files. Here’s a breakdown of data lineage to help you understand it better.

What Is Data Lineage?

Data lineage is a record of changes, adaptations and specific data piece evolution. Data lineage presents the genesis of a data set, the changes it undergoes, where it goes and its attributes. Personified, it is information’s biological clock. It’s like a medical record for a piece of data.

An example of data lineage is the rings of a tree. When someone cuts down a tree, they inspect the rings on the stump to roughly determine its age. For data files, data lineage acts the same way. It tells when it was created and by whom.


Inclusion of data lineage in organizations boosts transparency and understanding of information from its inception to its current state. This is because it upholds quality of data. Without lineage, data quality deteriorates through development, relocation and transformation.

A DNA sequence digitally.
Data lineage gives companies transparent information.

Data lineage ensures a business can stay within regulations and standards. Similarly, incomplete data could interrupt workflows. Therefore, having a start-to-finish record of a piece of information maintains integrity and clarity. Within many companies, team members depend on whole sets of data for vital reports. They need data lineage tools to confirm the data included in reports is accurate.

Visual Portrayals and Data Lineage

Create visual representations of data to bolster trust and clarity among team members who have reservations about data use. Data flow and lineage of an organization is complex and obscure. As a result, the best solution to clear up the processes for members is a visual of the data flow. Visual depiction of the company’s data flow offers a mapping of information from its beginning to current state. It also shows the developments the data undergoes in its journey.

A person made up of digital data.
Data lineage graphs help teams correctly utilize pieces of information.

A graph is a strong solution to simplify data lineage for teams. Therefore graphing software should be capable of presenting basic visual mapping and offer searchable functionality. Within each graph are pieces of the data puzzle which users will have questions and concerns about. Search functions help by locating specific pieces of information within the graph.

Metadata Management and Data Lineage

Metadata management organizes information about data so that it can be searched. It enriches and keeps detailed records of data flow. The right metadata management solution ensures data lineage within an organization will be discernible. Throughout a typical data flow, pieces of metadata are stored as data changes on the way to its destination.

A person made up of digital dots.
Metadata provides integral parts of data lineage.

Metadata management offers comprehensive data lineage in a coordinated location for different departments of a business to employ. Presenting data lineage reports help teams grow in efficiency and competence. Furthermore, metadata management keeps these reports detailed and organized.

Data lineage offers detailed insight into the span of existence for a piece of information. An understanding of the different factors is the beginning of true organizational transparency. Align valuable information with effective data lineage to keep all teams informed.

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and Industry Expert | Canto

Casey is a content management and branding expert who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.