Chapter 5: Data Quality Issues Management

Chapter 5: Data Quality Issues Management


Data quality investigations are all designed to surface problems with the data. This is true whether the problems come from stand-alone assessments or through data profiling services to projects. It also does not matter whether assessments reveal problems from an inside-out or an outside-in method. The output of all these efforts is a collection of facts that get consolidated into issues. An issue is a problem with the database that calls for action. In the context of data quality assurance, it is derived from a collection of information that defines a problem that has a single root cause or can be grouped to describe a single course of action.

That is clearly not the end of the data quality effort. Just identifying issues does nothing to improve things. The issues need to drive changes that will improve the quality of the data for the eventual users.

It is important to have a formal process for moving issues from information to action. It is also important to track the progress of issues as they go through this process. The disposition of issues and the results obtained from implementing changes as a result of those issues are the true documentation of the work done and value of the data quality assurance department.

Figure 5.1 shows the phases for managing issues after they are created. It does not matter who performs these phases. The data quality assurance department may own the entire process. However, much of the work lies outside this department. It may be a good idea to form a committee to meet regularly and discuss progress of issue activity. The leader of the committee should probably be from the data quality assurance department. At any rate, the department has a vested interest in getting issues turned into actions and in results being measured. They should not be passive in pursuing issue resolution. This is the fruit of their work.

Click To expand Figure 5.1: Issue management phases.

An issue management system should be used to formally document and track issue activity. There are a number of good project management systems available for tracking problems through a work flow process.

The collection of issues and the management process can differ if the issues surface from a "services to project" activity. The project may have an issues management system in place to handle all issues related to the project. They certainly should. In this case, the data quality issues may be mixed with other issues, such as extraction, transformation, target database design, and packaged application modification issues. It is helpful if data quality issues are kept in a separate tracking database or are separately identified within a central project management system, so that they can be tracked as such. If "project services" data profiling surfaces the need to upgrade the source applications to generate less bad data, this should be broken out into a separate project or subproject and managed independently.