Reference data is data used to classify or categorize other data. Typically, they are static or slowly changing over time. Examples of reference data include: *
Units of measurement A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude of a quantity, defined and adopted by convention or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same kind of quantity. Any other quantity of that kind can be expressed as a multi ...
Country code Country codes are short alphabetic or numeric geographical codes (geocodes) developed to represent countries and dependent areas, for use in data processing and communications. Several different systems have been developed to do this. The term ' ...
s * Corporate codes * Fixed conversion rates e.g., weight, temperature, and
length Length is a measure of distance. In the International System of Quantities, length is a quantity with dimension distance. In most systems of measurement a base unit for length is chosen, from which all other units are derived. In the Inter ...
Calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A date is the designation of a single and specific day within such a system. A calendar is also a physi ...
structure and constraints Reference data sets are sometimes alternatively referred to as a "controlled vocabulary" or "lookup" data. Reference data differs from master data. While both provide context for business transactions, reference data is concerned with classification and categorisation, while master data is concerned with business entities. A further difference between reference data and master data is that a change to the reference data values may require an associated change in
business process A business process, business method or business function is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks by people or equipment in which a specific sequence produces a service or product (serves a particular business goal) for a parti ...
to support the change, while a change in master data will always be managed as part of existing business processes. For example, adding a new customer or sales product is part of the standard business process. However, adding a new product classification (e.g. "restricted sales item") or a new customer type (e.g. "gold level customer") will result in a modification to the business processes to manage those items.

Externally-defined reference data

For most organisations, most or all reference data is defined and managed within that organisation. Some reference data, however, may be externally defined and managed, for example by standards organizations. An example of externally-defined reference data is the set of country codes as defined in
ISO 3166-1 ISO 3166-1 (''Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 1: Country codes'') is a standard defining codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. It ...

Reference data management

Curating and managing reference data is key to ensuring its quality and thus fitness for purpose. All aspects of an organisation, operational and analytical, are greatly dependent on the quality of an organization's reference data. Without consistency across business process or applications, for example, similar things may be described in quite different ways. Reference data gain in value when they are widely re-used and widely referenced. Examples of good practice in reference data management include: # Formalize the reference data management # Use external reference data as much as possible # Govern the reference data specific to your enterprise # Manage reference data at enterprise level # Version control your reference data


Further reading

* {{Cite book, title = Managing Reference Data in Enterprise Databases, last = Chisholm, first = Malcolm, publisher = Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, year = 2001, isbn = 1558606971

See also

* Master data *
Data modeling Data modeling in software engineering is the process of creating a data model for an information system by applying certain formal techniques. Overview Data modeling is a process used to define and analyze data requirements needed to sup ...
* Master data management * Enterprise bookmarking * Data architecture * Transaction data * Code (metadata)

External links

Microsoft MSDN, Reference Data Services in DQS, 2012
Data management