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A Data Quality Profession?

Do We Need a Data Quality Profession?

In a recent article on Data Quality Arkady Maydanchik was suggesting that a key solution to the current data quality issues that plague business everywhere is the creation of a dedicated Data Quality profession.

In a reply to the article I suggested that, far from solving the problems, the creation of a Data Quality profession was the one thing that would guarantee the perpetuation of data quality issues.

Root Cause Analysis

The only acceptable argument for setting up a Data Quality profession would be to eliminate all data quality issues, i.e. for the profession to make itself redundant.  Do you know of any existing profession, or can you even imagine one, who would be committed to this?  The sceptical among us might suggest that a Data Quality profession might even have a vested interest in perpetuating data quality problems.  What’s your opinions?

Most current data quality issues have their root in the separation in IT, for some crazy reason, of the roles of those modelling function and those modelling data.

Data only exists in an enterprise to support function. No other reason.

So, if you manage the quality of the data created and transformed by function, you manage the quality of all data in the enterprise.  The current separation of the roles of function and data analyst prevents this happening.

Function and Data Analysis Needs to be Combined.

Every good business analyst (and who would employ a bad one?) ought to be able to do high quality data analysis and every good data analyst ought to be able to do high quality function analysis.

And what would be call this combined role? Business Analyst. Because a good business analyst needs to fully understand – and that means analyse and model – both function and data.  Those that cannot are only understanding and modelling half the picture.

The Entity Relationship Diagram is every bit a much a business model as the Function Hierarchy or a Process Model.

More on Data Modeling | More on Function Modelling


4 Responses to “A Data Quality Profession?”

  1. Gordon Hamilton September 29, 2010 7:49 am #


    Interesting! So, will getting rid of doctors clear up that old “sickness” problem we’ve been putting up with for all these years. :)

    Cheers, Gordon (DQStudent)

    • John Owens September 29, 2010 11:39 am #

      Hi Gordon

      Thanks for the feedback.

      A better option is to get rid of the “sickness” problem with some good preventative medicine and remove the need for doctors! :-)


  2. Derek Belyea June 18, 2010 12:49 pm #

    I have trouble imagining how all data quality problems (or even a subset) might ever be fully solved in my lifetime, no matter how skilled the Business Analyst. As organizations evolve through responses to changing markets, more complex regulation, new technologies, natural growth, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, etc. the data needed for operational and strategic purposes will keep changing, likely towards more demanding quality standards. What is acceptable today will not meet minimal requirements tomorrow simply because business analysts and business process experts are no better than anyone else in predicting the future.

    Saying that Data Quality professionals would work to perpetuate data quality problems says two things: (1) Data Quality professionals are self-serving and unethical. (2) Managers of Data Quality professionals would be fooled into believing that they should continue employing people who add no business value. I doubt that you really believe either statement.

    • John Owens June 18, 2010 6:36 pm #

      Hi Derek

      Thanks for your comment.

      Not many years ago manufacturing and engineering thought that the concept of a world with zero defects was an impossible myth. Now it is the norm.

      I am definitely not suggesting that Data Quality Professionals are unethical, far from it.

      The crux of the matter is that Data Quality problems cannot be prevented from happening by looking at data that has already been created.

      The real problem lies in the badly modelled and designed functions and processes that have created the bad data.

      Until Data Quality Professional shift their focus and become Business Quality Professionals they will always be dealing the symptom as opposed to eliminating the cause.


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