Information quality problems are all around us. We feel the impact every day, even if we don’t recognize them as data quality issues. They range from seemingly innocent mistakes that don’t matter to problems with real consequences.
• A man receives a promotional letter addressed to his father who passed away several years ago – that address used by a company who purchased mailing lists with outdated information
• A customer does not receive an order because of incorrect shipping data
• Products are sold below cost because of wrong discount rates
• A manufacturing line is stopped because parts were not ordered – the result of inaccurate inventory information
• The wrong person was called in for a transplant because her medical records were merged incorrectly with those of another woman who had the same name and a similar birthdate
• Many communities cannot run an election with results that people trust
• Violations of pipeline safety laws led up to a natural gas explosion in a residential neighborhood resulting in lives lost and homes destroyed – no data about the pipes and their maintenance were contributing factors
Here is a quick quiz to see if data and information quality apply to you and your organization:
1. Which products and/or services does your organization provide? Choose one to answer the remaining questions.
2. What information is required to provide that product or service? (e.g. shipping information, list of medical providers, financial reports)
3. What data makes up that information? (e.g. shipping information is made up of data such as customer name, order date, ship date, shipping address, etc.)
4. Do you trust the data and resulting information as you make decisions, complete transactions, and carry out business processes? If yes, then read no further. If no, continue because it is highly likely you have an actual data quality problem behind your sense of distrust.
5. If the data and information are of poor quality, what happens? For example, are critical decisions delayed, are transactions completed incorrectly, are reports wrong? Be as specific as you can.
6. Can you recognize, even at this high level, impacts from poor data quality?
If the answer to question #6 is yes, know that you cannot afford to ignore these problems. Once data quality issues are recognized or suspected it is often not clear how to proceed, yet there are practical actions you can take to address the problems and prevent them from recurring. For example, consider a proven methodology for creating, improving, and sustaining data and information quality: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™. Once you recognize data quality problems that are impacting your business and you know there are resources to help address them – isn’t it time to get started?
Danette McGilvray is president and principal of Granite Falls Consulting, a firm that helps organizations increase their success by addressing the information quality and data governance aspects of their business efforts. Focusing on bottom-line results, Granite Falls’ strength is in helping clients connect their business strategy to practical steps for implementation. Granite Falls also emphasizes the inclusion of communication, change management, and other human aspects in data quality and governance work.
Danette is the author of Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™ (Morgan Kaufmann, 2008). An internationally respected expert, Danette’s Ten Steps™ approach to information quality has been embraced as a proven method for both understanding and creating information and data quality in the enterprise. A Chinese-language edition is also available and her book is used as a textbook in university graduate programs.
Note: Portions of this article contain material from the book Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™ by Danette McGilvray, published by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, copyright 2008 Elsevier, Inc. See http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780123743695
This article Copyright 2018 by Danette McGilvray, Granite Falls Consulting, Inc. (www.gfalls.com) All rights reserved worldwide.