Category Archives: Data Quality

Stuff Happens.

It’s been a while I know. Stuff happens. Some of the stuff may be Data Governance related. And that’s where I’m at. Life is good again. Yeehawww!

Getting Data Governance started, whatever that may look like is a pretty big deal. At least I think it’s big. Huge in fact. It’s like the earth shifted on its axis and all of a sudden things that I’ve been ranting about start to get a bit of attention. All I can say is I’m pretty happy to be part of it and can’t wait for whatever comes next.

What it’s starting to look like is still being shaped but it mostly comes down to organizational alignment, changing behaviors, communicating the value, making data a priority. What might be different is how you go about getting some of these things accomplished. It depends on the culture, the people, what kinds of roles you have in place and what is the business problem you’re trying to solve. If you can take all that into account you’re halfway there.

Getting the attention of the powers that be is also pretty important. I can’t tell you what worked for us as we’re still trying to figure it all out, but here are some of the things that have been key success factors:

  1. Cross functional or organizational Senior Management direction and support. When you only have some senior level support you’ll only get so far.
  2. A strong core (awesome super duper brilliant crazy fun smart) team who has credibility and influence. You need to get out there, get people engaged and constantly spread the word, communicate, get participation and get support and buy-in. You know, do the team Data Quality rant 😉
  3. A very very very very very clear and concise scope that everyone agrees to and is supported by Senior Management (see item #1). This can sometimes be your biggest challenge as everyone has a different perspective on what Data Governance can be and it can be pretty big (exhausting, draining, mind numbing, relationship busting, etc etc etc) if you let it. Was I too subtle there? Start with something do-able that can be achieved, get Senior support and show value.
  4. A business problem that needs to be solved. This could be the one thing that drives everything you do. If you need resources and budget you’ll be standing in line with all the other business priorities unless you are solving a problem. A big problem is even better. For some, even though we all know that good data enables business (not just the technology), it might be a really big project that needs some good data. That’s as good a place to start as any. After how many years…whatever works I say :D.
  5. Communicate often. Whatever your communication vehicle is, unless it’s a loudspeaker pumped throughout the organization like they did in school many people are just too busy with their own priorities to take time to digest your message. So keep at it!
  6. Focus on where you want to be rather than how it currently works. If you keep going back to “yes but in this system the data works this way” you’ll end up in Alice’s rabbit hole and you won’t get out without bloodshed. Ok no, we didn’t have any bloodshed but the ‘current state’ vs ‘future state’ or ‘where we want to be’ discussions created some real challenges.

What we’ve accomplished is we’ve got agreement on some of our data that is important for the organization. Everyone participated in the development of the definitions, the business need and the leader accountable for the integrity, and we’re just settling into getting some structures in place for decisions and changes and figuring out how we’re going to sustain that.

OMG. That’s all I can say.

Data Quality – The Inadvertent Oxymoron


It boggles my mind.

How can a unit/team/group have processes that either flat-out cause data quality problems or enable them by turning a blind eye, yet have budget and resources assigned to fixing up the mess after the fact? How can a phenomenon such as this occur? Is it because the organization is new at Data Quality and their idea of resolving it is to apply re-active fixes because they don’t know any better? I DON’T THINK SO!

I think they know better. I think they know better but they also know that resolving it will require Data Governance which means organizational change. Big Change. And discomfort. Big discomfort.

So here is my question then. How can our leaders, strategists, financial analysts and auditors present their budget figures for the year and get approval for this inadvertent Oxymoron of processes?

Just sayin…

The iaidq Blog Carnival


Each month the IAIDQ (International Association for Information and Data Quality) asks the data quality blogging community to submit their blog posts for the El Festival del IDQ Bloggers.  A different blogger volunteers (or you might be asked like me!)  to host the blog posts along with a brief summary of the submissions on their own blog.  I am very proud to be asked to host the latest event. 


First up is Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen, a Data Quality, Master Data Management and Data Architecture professional who lives in Copenhagen. Henrik is always one of the first (could it have to do with his location do you think 😉 )  to start the #FF’s on twitter and is a great commenter on the blogs of others. One of the things I noticed about Henrik (besides his gentle sense of humor) is that he is always very interested in learning about how things work (differently) in countries around the world. Henrik shares this interest by pointing out the differences in his blogs and comments and he also takes the time to identify the countries of origin when he tweets his #FF’s. I think it’s pretty cool too so thanks Henrik! 

Be sure to read Henrik’s submission called “What are they doing?” , a comment provoking post on the subject of  “assigning values for your customers/prospects industry vertical (or Line-of-Business or market segment or whatever metadata name you like)”.  Don’t forget to have a look at the rest of Henrik’s excellent posts and of course you need to follow @hlsdk on twitter! 


Next is Steve Sarsfield, Data Quality/Data Governance evangelist and author of the highly rated book The Data Governance Imperative . Steve is a popular tweeter, public and webinar speaker, white paper author and youtuber (What? podcasts Steve?.. :P) on the topic of data quality and data governance and has a sizable following due to his experience, insight and passion for all things Governance. Steve submitted an excellent post called Change management and Data Governance on the topic of  the parallels between change management and data governance. Be sure to read Steve’s post and the rest of his blog  Data Governance and The Data Quality Insider and don’t forget to follow @stevesarsfield on twitter. 


Next on the list is one of my new twitter friends Ken O’Connor. Ken is an independent Data Consultant located in Ireland, who specialises in helping organisations satisfy the Data Quality / Data Governance requirements of compliance programmes such as Solvency II, BASEL II, Anti Money Laundering, Anti Fraud, Anti Terrorist Financing, and Single Customer View – classic Master Data Management challenges. Ken submitted his blog post on the “Ryanair Data Entry Model“, a recommended model of data entry used by most low-cost airlines, where customers take care to ensure that each piece of information they enter is correct – because it matters to them! Be sure to check out the rest of  Ken’s Blog: Ken O’Connor Data Consultant, and follow him on Twitter here: @KenOConnorData  



It wouldn’t be a DQ blog carnival without including a post from Daragh O Brien, former IAIDQ publicity director, founder member of the IAIDQ, and  leader of the IAIDQ’s community in Ireland. Author, blogger, and an independent consultant with Castlebridge Associates, Daragh has been an active member of the International information/data quality community since 2004. Daragh is hugely supportive of sharing expertise, and is (obviously ;)) great at encouraging bloggers such as myself to take on a participatory role in the DQ community. Check out Daragh’s great submission: The Who, What, How and Why,  which describes the simple need for organisations to be able to answer the what/why/how and who questions about the information that fuels their business. Check out the rest of Daragh’s The DO Blog and be sure and follow @daraghobrien and @IAIDQ on twitter. 


Initiate, an IBM Company, submitted a couple of blog posts from their Initiate Mastering Data Management corporate blog. 

Larry Dubov,  internationally recognized expert in MDM and CDI and an author of over eighty publications wrote a three part series on data quality metrics: Measuring MDM and Data Governance Success, Defining Data Quality Metrics: Uniqueness, Completeness, Latency & Consistency and More Data Quality Metrics: Standardization, Availability, Adoption and Reference Data.  Dr. Larry Dubov is Senior Director and Partner of Business Management Consulting at Initiate, an IBM Company. You can check out Larry’s complete profile on LinkedIn:

Ian Stahl’s The Business Data Steward: A “Kaizen” Approach to MDM hits on a lot of topic areas around the empowerment and investment of business stakeholders around data management and Ian received some great comments.  Ian is the Director of Product Management for Enterprise Solutions at Initiate, and in that capacity oversees Initiate’s offerings in Financial Services, Manufacturing, Insurance, Retail, Hospitality and other segments of the Master Data Management market. Access Ian’s LinkedIn profile: 

I couldn’t find twitter accounts for either Larry or Ian so let me know if I’ve erred. But never fear, you CAN get all the scoop on these stories and more (including a great sense of humor and some biting insight) by following one of my favorite tweeps, @Initiate.   


The last post is by the infamous Jim Harris, Obsessive Compulsive Data Quality thought leader, blogger, tweeter, philosopher, vicarious reader, lover and quoter of sci-fi, Pixar movies and just about every good line from Battlestar Galactica! Jim, who resides in Iowa,  has over 15 years of professional services and application development experience in data quality (DQ), data integration, data warehousing (DW), business intelligence (BI), customer data integration (CDI), and master data management (MDM). Jim is also an independent consultant, speaker, vlogger and writer, and although I have never met Jim personally, I think of Jim as one of my very best virtual friends :). Jim submitted 6 posts (out of the 21 he wrote in August) and I urge you to read them all, as they provide value and insight into the perceptions, challenges, recommendations, best practices and (of course) philosophy of all things Data Quality related.   

Get Zippy with Selling the business benefits of Data Quality 

What came first, the Data Quality Tool or the Business Need?   

The Road of Collaboration   

The Real Data Value is Business Insight 

The popular (and one of my fav’s) Some is not a number and Soon is not a time   

And The Fifth Law of Data Quality, Jim’s DataFlux Community of Expert’s Post. 

Check out the rest of Jim’s OCDQ Blog and be sure to follow Jim as @ocdqblog on Twitter! 

Thanks to everyone who submitted their blogs, a truly amazing selection of great stories and information! And for the rest of you, don’t be shy! Anyone can submit a data quality blog post and experience the benefits of extra traffic, networking with other bloggers and discovering interesting posts and new ways to tackle data quality issues.


Informal Data Governance?

Can data governance be informal? Is there such a thing? Doesn’t formalization make up a key (and critical) component of Governance? As in; formal roles and responsibilities, formal processes including escalation, formal decision bodies, formal communications, templates, etc etc..
Isn’t informal data governance not data governance at all, but a hugely expensive and time-consuming (and mind-numbing…don’t forget to add mind-numbing…) approach to getting people to buy in?
Just sayin….
What do you think?

It’s not just about the data…

I was sitting in a traffic jam yesterday and there was nothing on the radio so my mind drifted and I started thinking about a couple of things that drive me..that I am passionate about, that I think are HUGELY important. There’s quite a list (ok stop rolling your eyes, it’s not that big) but here are the top three:

  • Communication. It should be in the format of the recipients choice, there should be a feedback mechanism and it should be frequent and comprehensive.
  • Feedback. I only know about 3 people who are really good at giving and receiving it. Everyone else…I never see it. How hard is it to tell someone you really liked their story, presentation, communication, whatever? They will LOVE you for it!
  • Information Sharing. It makes me so grumpy when people don’t share their information. And when they use the excuse because “it’s not yet final”, or “it hasn’t been approved yet” I have a really hard time hiding my body language so it’s not blatantly obvious that I think they are neanderthals…

So I am mulling these things over while sitting in traffic and I’m listening to a news story about a small group of ‘green’ keeners who have started a new thing called ‘Trash parties’. They invite people into their homes for good food and conversation, and then the host brings out the garbage for others to poke through and make suggestions on how they can be better at recycling.  At this point I’m thinking about that moldy three-week old chicken I found in the back of the fridge and tossed in the trash and wondering if they clean out their trash before the company comes. Kind of like those people who clean their house before the cleaning lady comes.

Anyway, I was mulling this over when my mind drifted back to the information sharing peeve of mine and thought what if…what if we did kind of the same thing with our information? We all have tons and tons of information in our personal private folders. You know those 3 versions of documents that are still in draft format? The important emails that house decisions that we have saved…the PDF’s that house industry knowledge? What if we invited our colleagues to poke through our information to see if there was something there that would be of value to them?  I can think of a couple of benefits to this:

  • Like the green keeners, we’d probably do a quick scan first and get rid of the triplicate versions of the same document.
  • We’d also remove some of the industry knowledge white paper stuff that is out of date (I’m sure I’ve got white papers from 2004 on the magic quadrant for CRM solutions).
  • All this pre-sharing information clean-up would help free up some much-needed server space.
  • And our colleagues might find some tidbit that we thought nothing of but could be something really important from their perspective!

The result of all this could be that those of us who don’t like to share might get a little more comfortable sharing information. And maybe, just maybe, we all start to have a better understanding of why all those silos of data and information might not be a good thing.

Ok, so maybe it is all about the data..

The Data Governance Journey – Part 1- Getting Started

Our organization is finally (YAY!!) embarking on a Data Governance program and I’d like to share the saga journey with you. If you are unfamiliar with my story here are the basics:

  • Due to a CRM initiative there was an agreed upon corporate need for Data Quality
  • I was asked to lead the development of the program and establish the team
  • The business functional areas agreed that data quality was needed but were not in a position to sponsor or champion the initiative
  • The program and team had executive IT sponsorship
  • In 4 years the team established a solid program and raised considerable awareness, but due to lack of business sponsorship or a champion much of the work was re-active.

Now, due to a major data related initiative, the corporation has once again agreed that data quality is an issue that needs to be resolved in order for the initiative to be successful. But what’s different this time is that the agreement was formalized.

How we achieved this

A series of workshops were established where those who had agreed that data quality was a critical success factor for the corporate initiative were asked to attend. The workshops were a series of facilitated meetings where different stakeholders were asked to identify goals and objectives, roadblocks and risks and what are the things they felt would enable them to achieve their objectives. The outcomes that resulted were varied but what was obvious were the common themes around their data;  ‘accountability’, ‘establishment of formal policies and compliance processes’, ‘a senior cross functional decision body’, and ‘Training and Communication’, all components of a Data Governance Program. Success measures were also a part of the workshop and agreement was reached on those as well. The final workshop was used to confirm what was agreed upon, what the success measures were and recommended next steps.

Key Strategies

  • Use cross functional workshops to formalize the common themes stakeholders have already informally agreed upon.
  • External consultants help facilitate the process by using subject matter expertise to guide the alignment between business and IT.
  • Always be sure to identify agreed upon success measures.
  • Once agreement is achieved confirm, confirm, confirm the outcomes and next steps.
  • Document the outcomes, agreements, next steps and communicate to the organization.
  • Be sure to include the process to establish funding as a next step.

The Challenges

Most of the stakeholders that were needed to participate are mostly at the senior level and so their availability was a challenge.

What we did

  • Reinforcement of the verbal stakeholder agreements, the corporation’s business objectives and how quality data will help achieve those objectives really helped. Once the first workshop took place everyone was keen to continue and so it got easier to obtain their participation in later sessions.

That’s it so far….I imagine things may get a little more interesting as we get into the development of the program. 

Be sure and tune in for the next episode: Part 2 – Overcoming (the first set of) obstacles.

Attributes of a Data Rock Star

Earlier this week, Jill Dyché (@JillDyche), successful author, blogger, BI, MDM and Data Governance consultant and all around information guru, created a flurry of creactivity (I just made that word up – it’s a combination of the words creative and activity), when she tweeted a simple response that suggested a couple of data rock star types, in response to an excellent on-line article Are You a Data Rock Star? by Elizabeth Glagowski.

Elizabeth’s article has some excellent descriptions and examples of the attributes of what makes a great data rock star and Jill’s vigorous (and often humorous) take on business and IT alignment always identifies the rock star behaviors of being able to communicate the linkage between a company’s information and its business value.

The results of the flurried creactivity, was Jean-Michel Franco (@jmichel_franco) coming up with a name that was quickly adopted; “The Rolling Forecasts”, and Jim Harris(@ocdqblog), in his latest Obsessive Compulsive Data Quality blog post, coined the brilliantly perfect and perfectly brilliant lyrics to the band’s first song: “You can’t always get the data you want”.

So what I decided to do here was attempt to compile all these rock start attributes and behaviors in a simple format, so that they can be easily re-used and referred to. I plan on adding these to our internal wiki and identifying them as behaviors of successful data stewards. I a) hope they get read and b) hope that they get people thinking, behaving, changing…

· Excellent communicator of business and IT concepts using common language

· Ability to link information to business value

· Effective at communicating concepts and new ideas at early stages in order to reduce change management efforts

· Has excellent self awareness and understands the link between trust and partnership

· Is able to express thoughts and opinions in various ways in order to be able to provide feedback when others may not be interested in hearing it

· And seeks out and is receptive to feedback and continuously provides the opportunity for others to provide it

· Actually listens to the feedback and changes behavior/process/approach for continuous improvement (don’t get me started on people who ask for feedback but couldn’t give a rat’s a**..)

· Understands the link between clarifying expectations and how that will lead to success

· Ability to know how to engage and enthuse others – must understand the body language, communication preferences, motivations and needs of others

· Must be able to spot opportunities and take advantage of them – and especially do it in a way that others are unaware of it

· Must be comfortable pushing the boundaries in order to change things and do so in a way that others are unaware the boundary is being pushed

· Must be comfortable exerting authority and using it appropriately – all the while smiling and engaging others

· Is able to identify key success measures from both business and IT perspective and communicate effectively – at the beginning to confirm what is expected and throughout to continue to re-iterate value

· Is well liked and respected – this will ensure access to resources, tools, other stakeholders, hidden information (you KNOW that happens), and will help pave the way through political and cultural roadblocks

· Be able to articulate solutions as practical and logical and tie them directly to group/organizational goals

What do you think?

Data Quality, My Story

I wish I could write more frequently. I have a lot to say and I’m always writing stories in my head. Every week our Data Quality program moves a little bit farther up that maturity ladder and I’d like to share what worked with the world! The problem is I struggle with how to take what happened, what is real, and write about it in a way that does not cross any of my organisations confidential boundaries. Which is why I struggle. Do I say this or that..will that get me in trouble..what ARE the rules in these days of social media?

Anyway, I’ve been inspired lately by some great bloggers on the subject of Data Quality: OCDQ Blog, Jill Dyche, Dylan Jones, Steve Sarsfield
Their stories are relevant, informative and personal, which is why I like to read them. And I do push the boundaries at work every single day. It’s the only way to make change happen. And it has worked so far….So I will tell my story, and hope that maybe someone else will benefit just like I have. As Spock would say: “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”.

Yep, bit of a Trekkie fan!