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Do you remember the times as a child when you had to ask your parents for an allowance? You would always ask, but the allowance would never come for free, you always had to give a reason and complete some chores in order to buy that limited edition game or the new fashion accessory that every girl was describing as the new “it” piece.

From child to adulthood, the practice of getting an “allowance” is a developed negotiation and reasoning technique we all possess. Give a reason, a benefit and you shall receive.

With worldwide IT spending on pace to grow 3.2 percent in 2014 and the enterprise software market making strides as the fastest-growing segment, as reported by Gartner, enterprise IT and business users must get in touch with their inner child to ask that difficult question, “Can I get an allowance for data quality”?

The convergence of social, mobile, cloud and information continue to drive the market with data quality and governance tools becoming more of a hot ticket item. Major corporations are even starting to add a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to their executives list. Everyone wants, check that, needs data quality and business-relevant data, but no one wants to ask for it. In fact, many organizations really don’t know where to start when it comes to establishing their master data management, data quality or data governance organizations. Developing and raising data knowledge and awareness are critical factors in establishing the concept of business-ready data.

Not too long ago, the majority of organizations would claim that their data was pristine. Typically, organizations without a true data quality organization really don’t know if their data is accurate and up-to-date, and often maintain large amounts of data because there is no established process or understanding of how to define and implement a governance model around their data being business-ready. Reasons being, they encounter difficulty in getting senior-level executives to buy-in on the importance of ensuring business-ready data rather than just focusing on the ERP implementation. Establishing a data quality organization is a necessary first step and a foundational data guiding principle. Without top down, executive buy in, most data quality and governance efforts have a extremely difficult time adopting new processes and seeing the true value that having a high level of business-ready data truly brings to an organization.

Given that most senior-level executives know the importance of data quality for their organization and are well aware that their data is not up to par, having them on board to invest in data quality initiatives and solutions should be a piece of cake right? We all wish it was, but without a substantial business case, there may be other priorities that may take precedent to your data quality initiatives. Also, IT has traditionally been viewed as a cost center when in fact the savings of having a high-level of data quality throughout the organization can be staggering. Every day there are product recalls, government fines for non-compliance, of which can be prevented by an affective data quality initiative and can proactively save millions of dollars depending on the size of the organization.

The process to get executive buy-in is actually right in front of you. Let your data tell the story. No business case is better for a senior-level executive or decision maker than seeing the affect their own data has on their business processes. This brings us upon the first leg of any data quality journey: Identify the data required to carry out a business process.

If it becomes difficult for you to identify the data, then this is a sure sign that there may be issues with the reliability and relevancy of your data and a reason why your business initiatives are failing to achieve their targeted benefits. Here is a way to prove it. Focus your efforts on a data assessment to build your business case.

A data assessment has many insightful benefits that allows you to:

    • Evaluate whether data is meeting company data standards
    • Identify the potential brick walls that poor quality data can form within your business processes
    • Identify and manage the risks associated with those business process stoppages
    • Create awareness of the importance of data quality in supporting business processes
    • A no brainer – Build a business case for focusing on your organization’s data quality

Whether an organization is implementing a new business system or looking to improve the quality of data in their existing systems, managers often grapple with getting their hands around the quality of their overall master data.

The focus of any data assessment should be to analyze the data and identify master data issues at the source by reviewing all levels of data, including master, operational and transactional data, allowing executives to break down and take an important step in understanding whether or not their data meets the organization’s established standards. By allowing your data to tell the story, it is much easier to determine what needs to be re-configured and what needs to be cleansed.

With a data assessment at your disposal, the task of asking for a data quality allowance shouldn’t be as daunting as it previously had been. Properly examining the data is the first step in understanding where your data currently stands and determining the right approach for remediating the issues as part of a solid data governance strategy. First diagnose the problem, then implement the cure.

By all means spend your data quality allowance wisely, and perhaps the value that is added to the business will be rewarded with a higher allowance next year . . .

For more information on data assessments and how to achieve data quality visibility in 5 days, please read our Data Audit Solution white paper.

The Road to SAPPHIRE NOW Blog Series features a series of blog posts on data quality, information governance and master data management from BackOffice Associates industry experts. Check back weekly for new content related to the 2014 SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference and join us at the event from June 3-5 in Orlando, FL at Booth #224.

Join the conversation #SAPPHIRENOW.

Contributed by W. Matthew Wagnon, Senior Product Manager at BackOffice Associates.