By Elliot King

Elliot King

As the cliché has it, data is an organization’s most valuable asset. But the question is–who guards those corporate jewels? Is it the IT staff that is charged with making sure the information infrastructure supports the business correctly? Is it the database developers and administrators who are the front-line data professionals? Is it the business

users who need accurate data to make sure tasks are executed as anticipated? Or is it the executive staff, which is in the best position to have a birds-eye view of the entire operation?

In practice, safeguarding data quality requires an interdisciplinary team
approach, with different players coming from different parts of the
organization. As with most teams, you need a team leader or program manager.
This person is charged with supervising the entire data quality improvement
program, recommending what resources are needed and where those resources should
be invested.

In addition to the program manager, most data quality initiatives require a
project leader, a person responsible for addressing specific data quality issues
at hand. Each project team has at least three specific roles that need to be
filled with representatives from the IT and business staffs.

The IT professionals must have the technical ability to fix what might be broken
and the business personnel must serve as the subject matter experts,
understanding the characteristics the data must have to get the job done.
Finally, there should be a data steward to set policies, procedures and
standards to improve standards.

Finally, one last critical role must be filled–executive sponsorship. Those of
you who are sports fans may have noticed that some teams are good year after
year while others aren’t. The difference is in the ownership (think the Los
Angeles Dodgers for a case study in good and bad ownership.) A data quality
improvement team cannot succeed without a strong commitment from the top.


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