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The data dictionary is a table that lists the details of each piece of data to be entered into an HR or related system, database, or spreadsheet and describes the precise format to be used when entering data into that field. The form is used to consistently communicate the desired layout of the database to the IT professionals and the users who will be entering the data. It assures that the data entered into the system is consistent in format so that reports run from the data have minimal errors and unusable data. Further, it allows efficient and accurate searches of the database. It gives specific direction to the IT team regarding how to set up the database so that it can accept data entered by users.
A meeting with representatives from the Information Technology (IT) or Human Resources Information System (HRIS) teams starts the process of using this tool with a discussion of the information needed to create the dictionary; the IT or HRIS professionals may have or use fields that differ from this template. Once agreement is reached, the HR team provides insights into the type of data that is required in the system or spreadsheet for running calculations necessary for accurate and consistent reporting, and the precise nature of each data point is agreed on and entered into the dictionary.