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Benefits of Data Lineage for Better Data Quality

Poor data quality can lead to costly mistakes, wrong conclusions, and negative impacts on customer satisfaction, and revenue. So how can we ensure better data quality? By using data lineage.

May 24, 2023

Hooked on Data

May 24, 2023
Benefits of Data Lineage for Better Data Quality

What is Data Lineage?

Data lineage is the record of the movement of data from its origin to its end destination. The metadata that accompanies data as it moves through various stages of processing creates a map of the data’s journey, known as lineage. This map includes information about where the data came from, how it was transformed, and where it is being stored. Both backward and forward lineage offer value in understanding the flow of data.

Forward Lineage vs Backward Lineage

Forward lineage is the tracking of data from its source and through each step of its processing until it is consumed by users. Backward lineage, on the other hand, is tracing data from its user and back to its origin, allowing for root cause analysis.

When to use Forward Lineage

By tracking data lineage within a data platform with an intuitive interface, we can easily identify where errors occur, where they originated, and where the data has been transformed on its journey.

When to use Backward Lineage

When troubleshooting data issues, a data engineer would employ backward lineage. By tracing the data flow backward from the problematic output to its source, they can identify the specific upstream components, transformations, or data sources that might be causing the problem, enabling them to rectify the issue more efficiently.

Benefits of Automated Data Lineage

Improved Data Governance

Data lineage provides a clear understanding of the data being used, where it came from, how it has changed over time, and how it is being used in other systems. This information is critical to ensure data governance.

Data governance is the process of managing the availability, usability, security, and integrity of data used across organizations. By having a clear understanding of data lineage, organizations can ensure that the data they use meets the governance standards.

Data governance is an essential aspect for organizations dealing with large and sensitive data sets. Data lineage helps organizations ensure that the data they use is secure, meets compliance standards, and is accurate.

Faster Issue Resolution

Issues related to data quality can be costly for organizations. According to a report by Gartner, bad data quality can cost organizations an average of $15 million annually. Therefore, timely identification and resolution of data quality issues are essential for organizations.

Data lineage can help data engineers and data leaders identify the source of data quality issues quickly. By understanding the data's flow, engineers can analyze how the data was transformed and processed, thus identifying the stage where data quality issues occurred. This helps to facilitate faster issue resolution leading to less downtime for teams.

Improved Data Understanding

Data lineage can help organizations develop a better understanding of their data. By tracking data across the organization's systems, data lineage can give a complete view of the data being used and how it relates to other data in the organization.

This information can help data engineers and data leaders identify areas of redundancies, duplication, and gaps in data. It can also help them understand where data is being underused or not being used at all. Understanding data better can lead to better decision-making and insights.

Enhanced Data Quality

Data lineage helps organizations track data's journey from source to destination, and every transformation that data undergoes. By having a complete view of data, organizations can detect errors early and correct them before they become more severe. As a result, data quality is enhanced.

Ensuring data quality is a critical part of the data management process, especially for organizations handling sensitive information. Data lineage helps organizations maintain data quality, leading to more reliable decision-making, increased trust, and better data-driven insights.

Improved Collaboration and Communication

Data lineage promotes better collaboration and communication among teams. A clear understanding of data lineage helps teams across the organization use the same data when performing their tasks. It also enables teams to consider the bigger picture when working on projects, leading to greater collaboration and better outcomes.

Clear communication leads to better outcomes, and data lineage plays a significant role in ensuring teams understand how data is stored, transformed, and used across the organization. With a clear understanding of data lineage, teams can communicate better and work together on projects seamlessly.

Importance of Data Observability for Better Data Quality

Data observability refers to the practice of monitoring data to ensure it is correct, timely, and trustworthy. It includes observing data in motion as well as already stored. Proper data observability relies on data lineage.

The relationship between data observability and data quality is a strong one. Proper data observability can boost data quality, making it easier to use for decision-making. By observing data with data lineage, we can have transparency into data flow, reducing the prospects of errors and improving trustworthiness.

Metaplane, a data observability platform, uses integrations metadata to automate data lineage creation. By leveraging an intuitive interface, we provide monitoring and troubleshooting tools to ensure data quality. Our platform is user-friendly designed for the modern data stack.

Leveraging Data Lineage for Machine Learning Applications

In machine learning, data lineage is essential for model transparency and interpretability. Feature engineering is the process of creating new features from the existing dataset and knowledge domain. A model's accuracy and efficiency heavily rely on the features used to train it. Data lineage makes feature engineering smarter—providing more context and successful models. Using lineage to create features in a machine learning model ensures that the data moves through the system to avoid subtle changes.

One quick example: while creating features for different types of restaurants, we have to take into account staleness and diversity and describe it as clear as possible. In our instance, we use forward lineage on the analytics tables with restaurant user behvaior to ensure that all current data stays fresh.

Implications of not Having Proper Data Lineage

Not having proper data lineage leads to mistakes being made in transactions, affecting budget and revenue analytics. Data troubleshooting can be a time-consuming task without proper data lineage. Identifying the source of an error can be nearly impossible when the flow of data pieces is not well documented, making issues hard to trace and fix.


In conclusion, data lineage contributes significantly to better data quality. By providing transparency into data flow, lineage improves trustworthiness and reduces the risk of errors.

To ensure proper data quality, companies must have proper data lineage implemented within their data platform, allowing for precise navigation, easy troubleshooting, and sure solutions. Proper data lineage could mean significant revenue growth, better data-driven decisions, and a thriving business.

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