Data Contracts

What is a data contract?

With Data Mesh and data products becoming more popular, there is a need for versioning, compatibly management, clear ownership, and more. Companies need a clear interface for their data, specifying the scope of the products, provided services, and how to access them.

A data contract in the context of data products refers to a formal agreement or specification that defines how data is structured, formatted, and communicated between different components of a data system or between parties involved in data exchange. It outlines the rules and expectations regarding data elements, their meanings, formats, and the protocols for data transfer and integration.

Data contracts are crucial for ensuring consistency, interoperability, and reliability in data products and services, enabling seamless data sharing and integration across diverse systems and organizations.

They provide better insights into who owns a data product, help set standards and monitor metadata pipelines, providing information on what data products are consumed, by whom, and for what purpose.

Characteristics of a data contract — as a type of SLA

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Benefits of data contracts

Data consistency

Data contracts establish standardized formats and structures for data, ensuring consistency in how data is collected, processed, and used. This consistency reduces the risk of data errors and discrepancies, freeing up your time from manual corrections and “repair work”.


Data contracts facilitate interoperability between different data systems and sources. This makes it easier for data experts to integrate data from diverse sources, reducing your time and effort required for data integration tasks.

Documentation and clarity

Data contracts serve as documentation that clearly defines the meaning and usage of data elements. This clarity helps you understand data semantics and reduces the ambiguity often associated with data, leading to more effective data analysis and decision-making.

Data quality assurance

By specifying data quality standards and validation rules within data contracts, you can ensure that incoming data meets predefined criteria. This helps in detecting and addressing data quality issues early in the data processing pipeline, saving time and resources for manual quality checks.

Collaboration and communication

Data contracts promote effective communication and collaboration among data experts, data producers, and data consumers. When all parties agree on a common data contract, it streamlines discussions, negotiations, and data exchange processes, ultimately enhancing teamwork and productivity with all business units and external stakeholders.

Data contract template

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