Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Approaching Information Quality

Information quality is often a neglected topic, both from the business side and the IT side. Perhaps, it is because information quality is a complex concept that includes many management techniques and quality practices.

Neglecting information quality issues may e.g.:

  • lead to extra time and resources to manage and resolve information assets
  • initiate a loss of credibility in services
  • delay deployments of new applications and integrations
  • be an originator of compliance problems
  • cause customer and partner dissatisfaction

When starting a quality effort it is often necessary to manage issues from two sides - existing quality issues needs to be sorted out and the occurrence of new issues needs to be minimised.

A quality study often reveals many existing and often serious quality issues. One of the things to deal with is simply where to start hence the actions need to be prioritised. A successful approach can be based on an evaluation of information assets (where quality levels are compared to business importance) and a shortlist of actions (selected by comparing business benefit to business effort).

Realising the actions often requires buy-in from sponsors and stakeholders. The approach is more solid if it can be supported by a business case. The business case should clearly state increased costs and risks as well as possibly lower revenue and confidence. The quality of the business case itself is reliant on e.g. how well the information assets are linked to IT services and business processes.

Minimising the occurrence of new issues may be done at different levels depending on the ambitions of the sponsors and stakeholders. Below is a list of some common actions to consider for the long run:

  • Create a information quality strategy to define a practical quality approach and a realistic vision
  • Establish a governance of information quality to unite business and IT professionals
  • Define appropriate metrics & tools for business focus and results
  • Assess master data and information architecture to deal with inconsistencies and sharing problems
  • Realise an information quality process and instructions to enable continuous improvements
  • Manage awareness and change concerning quality work to secure implementation

A common misconception is that quality is owned by and the responsibility of one group. However, a successful quality effort should lead to the realisation that quality is, and should be, the responsibility of everyone.

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