Forming data quality habits in 2015


It’s common at the start of a new year to create a long list of resolutions that we hope to achieve. The reality, of course, is by February those resolutions will likely be a distant memory.

The key to making any resolution stick is to start small. Create one small habit at a time and only move on to the next when it has become a routine in your life.

The desire to bed down multiple "data quality habits" is one of the biggest mistakes I witness in organisations. Too many people try to impose sweeping data quality reforms because "it worked in their last organisation," and the results are often a long drawn out process of resistance and underachievement.

I interview data quality leaders every week to share their secrets to success but in reality, there are no secrets. There is no magical methodology or perfect framework; it just comes down to habit-forming, one small step at a time.

The process can sometimes take many years, but the leaders who adopt a steady, habit-forming strategy, seem to come out on top every time.

The beauty of adopting a more organic approach to data quality management is that you can achieve a great deal by stealth. Flying under the radar, you can start to build momentum, gain support and deliver tangible results, often on a miniscule budget.

We adopted this approach in my first organisation. Our first habit was to fully document our processes and keep this documentation current. If you can’t accurately describe the many functions of your business then what is the point of throwing resources at improving it?

From there, we built the habit of regularly simplifying each process. Every week we met as a team and allowed everyone to suggest small improvements. Held in the local pub, we always had a strong turnout ;-)

Eventually we implemented data quality training and coaching to ensure the many dimensions of data quality were well managed by everyone from senior management to the ‘shop floor’.

These techniques were easy to implement because they were broken down into individual habits that everyone could follow. If I had proposed a multi-pronged assault on data quality from the outset, we would have failed. There is no way our small unit would have accepted such a huge amount of upheaval. When taken one step at a time, the team accepted each challenge willingly and delivered far beyond expectations.

If you’re looking for some data quality habits to form in 2015 I’ve compiled a list of my most useful posts on the Data Roundtable in 2014.

  1. Data quality mastery depends on change management essentials
  2. Want to improve data quality accuracy? Look for a techno-cultural shift
  3. 3 (low cost) tactics for data quality improvement
  4. How to improve your data quality history taking
  5. Video tutorial: 5 ways to instantly improve your data profiling performance
  6. 5 common data quality project mistakes (and how to resolve them)
  7. 5 tips for taking data quality to the enterprise
  8. How to grow a data quality culture that takes action
  9. Struggling to get started with data quality? Start with data lineage
  10. How to improve data quality through more effective data maintenance monitoring
  11. A simple technique for improving data accuracy
  12. Key to data quality engagement? Context enrichment

Please feel free to suggest your own habit forming ideas in the comments below.


About Author

Dylan Jones

Founder, Data Quality Pro and Data Migration Pro

Dylan Jones is the founder of Data Quality Pro and Data Migration Pro, popular online communities that provide a range of practical resources and support to their respective professions. Dylan has an extensive information management background and is a prolific publisher of expert articles and tutorials on all manner of data related initiatives.

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