Almost all researchers collect and preserve metadata, although doing so is often seen as a burden. However, when that metadata can be, and is, used actively during an investigation or creative process, the benefits become apparent instantly. Active use can arise in various ways, several of which are being investigated by the CREAM project, which was funded by Jisc as part of their Research Data Spring initiative. CREAM stands for Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active use of Metadata and the project is exploring the concept through understanding the active use of metadata by the partners in the collaboration. This paper explains what it means to use metadata actively and describes how the CREAM project characterises active use by developing use cases that involve documenting the key decision points during a process. Well-documented processes are accordingly more transparent, reproducible, and reusable.