Ever wonder why it’s so hard to link data quality efforts to business impact? For example, are you trying to get a data governance program off the ground but it’s lingering along-side the stale coffee and donuts in the break room? When you explain that the reason it takes 6 weeks to produce an analysis for a regulatory audit that you only have partial confidence in because of insufficient ability to validate the data, does the CFO look at you like you have six heads?
The most likely cause – your efforts to improve information quality and value are treated as a project, not a practice.
There is a lot of discussion and attempts at data governance these days. There are certainly a lot of aspects within data governance that facilitate data quality. However, data governance is much broader and built on business policy. Data quality is a major component. In the meantime, there are things you can do to transform single fire shots at data quality into a program that is practiced consistently and effectively.
Power in Teams: Think you are the only one struggling with data quality? Think again. Seek out others in your position throughout the organization. Collectively raise visibility to the issue.
Communicate: Even without a formal data governance program, it is still important to assess impacts on data when changes occur. If you are updating product SKUs, migrating from one industry standard to another, or even changing a company address, have a process in place to notify changes. When you have data quality projects, let others know what you are doing and communicate improvements upon completion.
Data Quality Improvement Plan: Establish a strategy and activities for the year. Set up benchmarks that show improvements or mitigate issues. Having a calendar of events that is clear and defining goals makes your practice a reality.
Establish a Budget: Make data quality a line item, be it for reference data, employees/contractors, technology, or services. This will ensure you bring visibility to data issues and have a business plan in place to justify your program. You will want to consolidate what your company currently spends in your department and others raising the effort necessary just to maintain status-quo.
So as you prepare your plans for 2011, think about turning your data quality program into a practice for ongoing success.