Over the years I’ve had many conversations, and a few arguments, about the subject of Data Quality. The topic often arises after an executive suffers a brain explosion during a how-could-this-happen? meeting.
Some folks look at Data Quality as the effort to find problems in the database, and once they are found and fixed(maybe), case closed, game over. Actually, to truly improve the quality of data, you'll need a bit of a corporate lifestyle change, and some pain and resistance to go with it. To realize what you are getting into, it's probably helpful to view information systems in a different light. So lets step away from the computer for a moment and let this thought simmer:
If you have data intensive operations going on in your organization then you are manufacturing one or more information products.
Reflect on this analogy  and notice how it changes the view of your company. The software, operating systems, and databases are the machinery. The entire staff becomes Customers – functionally dependent consumers of at least some of your information products for day to day ops or strategic decision making. Your paying customers suddenly become consumers of products you don’t even sell such as web-based order entry or any website with a “Customer Login” screen.
The manufacturing perspective expands your product line too. Think of every quantifiable unit of information provided to the Customers and you’ll see a whole new product list. Consider every information product that your organization manufactures and ask yourself a simple question: Is it right?
1. The manufacturing perspective isn’t my idea. I stumbled on this back in 2003 and I think it is still very relevant as a foundation for a data quality system:
A Product Perspective on Total Data Quality Management ( Richard Y. Yang)