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Book Review: Journey to Data Quality

From a theoretical point of view Journey to Data Quality, by Y.W. Lee et. al, is a great read which I highly suggest to all data professionals and to senior IT management. The book starts with a discussion of the cost/benefit of data quality, something which should be an eye-opener to any IT professional -- some estimates claim that business is impacted by poor quality data by as much as 8-12 percent of revenue. Chapters 3 through 5 describe how to assess the quality of data, the first step in understanding where to invest effort for addressing the data problems that your organization faces. Chapter 6 describes the root causes of data quality problems and Chapter 7 works through a case study within a health-care organization. Chapter 8 is arguably the most valuable one within the book, arguing that information should be managed as a product, not just as a by-product of systems, a philosophy which motivates quality practices within an organization. Chapter 9 overviews a type of model known as an information product (IP) map, a combination of a flow chart and data-flow diagram (DFD). Chapter 10 describes another case study, Chapter 11 summarizes the main points of the book, and Chapter 12 provides a vision for succeeding at the long journey ahead of you.

From a practical point of view this book was a bit of a disappointment. Although there is a lot of advice which organizations can use to improve their overall data quality processes, most of them seem to be based on increasing the overall complexity of your software process and the supporting bureaucracy. There was no mention of testing at all. Call me old fashioned, but a comprehensive testing strategy should be part of any quality program that you embark on. Without a doubt this book is a good start on the path to data quality, but it will only get you so far.

Journey to Data Quality

Y.W. Lee, L.L. Pipino, J.D. Funk, and R.Y. Wang.

MIT Press, 2006

www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0262122871/ambysoftinc/

--SWA


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