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8/1/2008
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Kimball University: Eight Recommendations for International Data Quality

Language, culture, and country-by-country compliance and privacy requirements are just a few of the tough data quality problems global organizations must solve. Start by addressing data accuracy at the source and adopting an MDM strategy, then follow these six other best-practice approaches.

Numbers

One might think that at least with simple numbers, nothing could go wrong. But in India and other parts of central Asia the number "12,12,12,123" is perfectly legitimate and corresponds to "121,212,123" in the United States. Also, in many European and South American countries, the role of the period and the comma for designating the decimal point is reversed from the United States. You better get that one right!

Architectures for International Data Quality

Here, in condensed form, are my recommendations for addressing international data quality:

1. 90 percent of data quality issues can be addressed at the source, and only 10 percent further downstream. Addressing data quality at the source requires an enterprise data quality culture, executive support, financial investment in tools and training, and business process re-engineering.

2. The master data management (MDM) movement is hugely beneficial for establishing data quality. Build MDM capabilities for all your major entities including customers, employees, suppliers, and locations. Make sure that MDM creates the members of these entities upon demand, rather than cleaning up the entities downstream. Use MDM to establish master data structures for all your important entities. Make sure the deployment lets you correctly parse these entities at all stages of the DW/BI pipeline, carrying the detailed parsing all the way to the BI tools.

3. Actively manage and report data quality metrics with data quality screens, error event schemas, and audit dimensions (read my white paper, "Architecture for Data Quality in an Enterprise DW/BI System").

4. Standardize and test Unicode capability through your DW/BI pipelines.

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