One of the best pieces of advice I give to my clients is to talk about your data quality issues to people in management and IT. Don’t be afraid! This seems like a very obvious activity, but it’s often overlooked, or avoided like the plague in case it could reflect on you or your team. But, talking it out is a great way to gain support in the business, and then partner with IT when necessary, to solve those business issues on a wider scale across the enterprise.
The “data quality” conversation opens up a forum in which the different organizations within the enterprise can collaborate to solve a problem instead of pointing fingers to assign blame. Often anecdotally, the business will claim there is a data quality issue and maybe even propose a solution without even talking to IT. In reality, it may not be a technical issue at all. It could be a business process issue.
If your Data Governance program already has the business processes documented, the root cause analysis will be executed much faster. If not, then get the process in writing quick. Do it now.
Once you have identified the cause of the issue, you can work on the solution. If the cause is indeed a technical issue, you work closely with IT to resolve it. If it’s a business process issue, you may want to work with both the business and IT to resolve it. In fact, I recommend that to cover all the bases and ensure everyone is on the same page.
For instance, the original business requirements may not have included capturing a piece of critical data up front that is causing an issue downstream. Now the business folks can work with IT to revise the rules to capture that data in the application and store it in the database. Or, depending on the case, IT can enrich back-end process using a data quality solution to append the piece of data - zip+4, gender, etc.
Once the business recognizes that data quality issues aren’t always IT problems, it will be easier to have future conversations with them, and most importantly, business managers and analysts will start owning some of the issues.
And, that will certainly alleviate many of your data fears so you won’t be afraid to talk about what you may not know. Remember, when it comes to data, what you don’t know may hurt you…or your business.