But occasionally I come across something that does show how internal structures and communication can provide a death knell for data quality. I was reading a technical book (published 2011), which will remain nameless. As will its author, for whom I have high regard, and I don't plan to bad mouth him for a couple of pages of loose advice.
His book is explaining to IT staff how to manage certain aspects of international data. Then he gets on to postal addresses. He then makes a number of recommendations that will turn the blood of most non-technical staff cold. I paraphrase:
- Postal addresses are only used for sending post [!]...
- ... so, as validation is so difficult, don't bother with it [!!] - just collect them as a long text string.
- But force an upper limit in the number of characters you allow - who needs the hassle of working with those long-winded addresses [!!!],
- and strip out all those nasty accents, as they can only cause issues in your old, legacy mainframe ...
- And getting country name drop downs correct is such a hassle [true] that you should just allow a free text box to collect a country name [eek].
Never mind about executive buy in - let's work at educating our staff in what they need to know not just to get the job done, but to get the job done well.