Data lineage: operation and advantages

Data lineage, or data tracing, allows you to retrace the steps involved in the creation of a stored data item. It is possible to trace its location and origin, as well as its use and the path it has taken. Here is how data lineage works and the many advantages it brings.


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The tracing of more and more data

At a time when data is multiplying, data processing is becoming a major issue in the development of companies and services. Data is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. The knowledge of data and its history makes data lineage an essential tool in terms of data use.


Data Lineage is linked to the business process and the business object model. It also involves data mapping and data dictionary. The latter is used to provide a description of the data knowledge of each of the systems. It lists the implementations of the information on all the company's systems. It is at the crossroads of these elements that data lineage comes into play by tracing the elements of its transformations over time.


The vision offered by data lineage generally takes the form of a map showing the data-based information processing processes. This tracing can be used in several domains. It can be used for documentation or impact assessment. Data lineage is also frequently used to assess regulatory compliance. It therefore represents an essential aspect of data management.

Numerous advantages

The advantages of data lineage are numerous, particularly in terms of regulatory compliance. Companies and institutions are under great pressure to improve their production and become more and more reliable in terms of regulatory compliance. Personal data must also be better protected. In-depth knowledge of production processes is therefore essential.


Data lineage makes it possible to obtain this essential information, whether in the form of reports and indicators or calculation rules. Control over processing operations involving personal data has become indispensable. Data lineage makes it possible to highlight the various processes linked to the data, from its origin to its transformation, which helps to identify errors at the various stages of production.


By putting the finger on the risks of error using data, it becomes easier to ensure the conformity of personal data.


Thanks to data lineage, the company also has a description of the data flow and an overview of the metadata. This overview helps to establish effective governance of enterprise data and to establish a reliable architecture based on accurate data. The functioning of the entire enterprise and the production steps are clearly visible.


Data lineage is also important in modern companies, where IT projects are increasingly preferred. When they are part of the legacy application architecture, they become complex and impact analyses require a lot of time and energy. Data lineage allows to automate the documentation of flows. Data enhancement must be carried out competently and data lineage provides reliable and essential information.


Of course, IT support teams have everything to gain by relying on data lineage to considerably reduce their workload. With a complete overview of the process, they can analyze malfunctions and make the necessary corrections, which facilitates decision-making at all levels of the company. Because the nature of the error is identified at the data level, the correction is made more quickly.


In addition, data lineage has proven its ability to correct technical and business errors.

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The functional lineage

Data lineage is declined in several approaches. One of the main ones is functional lineage.


Thanks to this type of data lineage, it is possible to obtain a global vision of the path and transformations of a data so that its path is legible and understandable at all levels of the company. Technical details are eliminated, which clarifies the vision of the data history.


This way of presenting the data allows decisions to be made based on sufficient information.


Functional manual lineage consists of documenting different aspects of business knowledge. These aspects can come from application managers or data integration specialists, for example.


This approach has the advantage of describing how the data is supposed to flow and therefore does not describe how it is flowing at the current time, when it may be flowing with defects. It is important to have a good knowledge of data sets to benefit from functional manual lineage.

Technical lineage

Technical lineage must absolutely be used in data lineage since IT specialists and their assistants must know exactly the path and transformations undergone by the data in order to facilitate decision making.


It is a necessary step in the implementation of the various projects of the company or organization. The physical storage associated with the data must also be identified.


The technical lineage is therefore an important advantage in the constitution of the business lineage. Thanks to it, data governance is facilitated by the essential information it provides.


Manual technical lineage also provides a consolidation of technical information, most of the time in a spreadsheet, which is used to manipulate tables.


Manual technical lineage has several advantages since it allows the evaluation of different data transformations and the order in which they occurred. It is then possible to obtain an accurate picture of the company's operations and helps to identify the corrections to be made on a factual basis. It also provides an overall and chronological view of manual processes.


Each dataset can be manually extracted and transformed to be reused by a business. Advanced knowledge is required to apply this approach, but the results are worth the effort.

Assisted Lineage

Assisted lineage is an approach that is often indispensable and increasingly considered in companies.


It can be, among others, tag-based lineage. With this approach, a transformation engine labels each piece of data, no matter at what stage it is. The data is then tracked at all stages of its transformation from its origin.


Its great advantage is that tracking is automatic. The business term can be used for the labeling of each physical data. It must be ensured that the transformation engine controls all movements of the labeled data.


Assisted auto-lineage is another interesting form of assisted lineage. It requires an all-in-one environment that provides everything necessary to perform the lineage. This environment allows you to define the logic and manage the metadata, among other things. All events that interact with the environment can be controlled using this approach. It is then easy to target all the transformations undergone by the data.

La Ryax Team.