Every decision you make relies on some form of data, and the appropriate level of data quality is fundamental to sound business decisions. What can you do to ensure the accuracy of your company’s data in support of well-informed business decisions?

Begin with a basic understanding of the significance of data quality.

The importance of data quality

Data is essential to every business in every industry. Data drives your most expensive activities and your most critical business decisions – from launching a new project to altering your business model. Quality data increases the accuracy of your predictions to allow for better market forecasting and budget planning — and a more positive customer experience.

What impact does low-quality data have on your company’s:

  • Reputation?
  • Employee Satisfaction?
  • Project Success?
  • Financial Results?

Decision-making, company reputation, and your customers’ experience can all suffer from poor data quality.

Measuring data quality

Data quality has several metrics by which it can be measured and maintained. These include:

  • Consistency. Are your data sets consistent with one another? Is all your data current, measured objectively, coherent, and reasonable? Imagine losing a $125 million dollar space probe because of something as basic as feet versus meters. If it can happen at NASA, it can happen to you.
  • Accuracy. Is your data correct and representative of the object or reference information? For example, what happens to the reputation of a charity that sends five identical mail pieces to a long-time donor? Inaccurate data can cause anything from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophic failure depending on the context, so ensuring data accuracy is critical.
  • Completeness. Are all your records complete across data sets? Are any records missing relevant information, such as a previous surname or current contact information?

While there are other important metrics to consider, these three basics are easy to check in an initial examination of data quality. Problems in any one of these areas can have a significant impact on your business.

Improving data quality

According to a poll of data professionals, 75% of respondents named data quality as one of their top priorities. So, the next question is: How do you improve your company’s data quality? Recognizing the existence of a problem is the first — and often most important — step to data quality improvement, but without understanding the underlying causes and implementing action to correct the problem, the potential consequences of low-quality data remain.

There are specific steps you can take to manage your data quality.

  • Establish data governance. Develop an understanding of your data and how it is used, establish rules for managing how data is collected and/or input, and implement formal, regular data quality maintenance procedures.
  • Perform frequent data checks. Changes in names, addresses, titles, positions, management requirements, or local, state, or federal regulations can all lead to outdated, inaccurate, and incomplete data. Using external validation processes and running appropriate reports, for example, will allow you to catch issues before they grow into serious problems.
  • Incorporate a total data quality management solution. Complex data quality issues require more than a few tweaks. Frequent or persistent problems require a complete solution to resolve current issues and ensure data quality going forward.
  • Implement continuous improvement strategies. It’s unlikely you’ll have data that never changes. With fluctuations in customer information, market trends, and other changes associated with running a business, maintaining data quality is a constant process.

When your company’s data quality is low, it impedes your ability to make sound business decisions. Maintaining quality data requires consistent, ongoing, and well-defined processes — a total data quality management solution.

Data drives your most expensive activities and your most critical business decisions. Learn more about custom and complete data quality management solutions for your business at xcelerated.com.