The old saying “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” is as true for data quality management as it is for any other discipline. So how can you ‘measure’ your approach to data quality management in order to support long term improvement?

You can assess how effective a business process is by one of two main approaches – a compliance assessment and a maturity assessment.

A compliance assessment that results in a ‘Pass/Fail’ result may help get a certificate onto the wall of your office, but is probably not effective at generating long term, sustained improvements in approach as the outputs may be too coarse. Additionally, the effort required may be similar to that of a maturity assessment.

The power of a maturity assessment is that the results are rich enough to generate a constructive internal debate about the meaning of the results, areas of high/low maturity, which areas to improve etc.

A key factor to consider is both the standard that you assessing maturity against and the maturity measurement scale. When assessing the maturity of data quality management of an organisation, we will assess against ISO 8000 and also add in a number of key criteria that are not part of this standard based upon our in depth knowledge of data management, for example:

  • Data Governance
  • Attitudes to data
  • Data analysis

We use a maturity assessment scale detailed below:






The organisation has not recognised the topic and/or has no commitment to develop it



The organisation has recognised the topic and/or has plans to develop it. Current approaches reactive and uncontrolled



The organisation is developing plans and approaches to deliver this capability



The capability exists and is in use but may not be fully integrated with other topics



The capability exists, is in use and links to related topics. Activity to optimise performance across topics is under way



The capability exists, is in effective use, is clearly linked to related topics and there is clear evidence that approaches have been optimised

Illustration of the outputs of a data quality maturity assessment

The maturity assessment approach we use for a directorate or smaller organisation will typically involve:

  • Two days of interviews of key stakeholders, data providers, analysts
  • Review of documents, standards and processes
  • Analysis of findings
  • Reporting – this includes both the delivery of the maturity scores against each criteria, but also pragmatic suggestions detailing how you can improve your approach to data quality management.

This means that undertaking a maturity assessment should be an affordable activity for most organisations. If the assessment is repeated over agreed timescales, for example, annually, then you will be able to understand how the maturity of data quality management in your organisation is improving. Clients we have undertaken maturity assessments for have found the outputs valuable both in having an external view of their maturity, but also to facilitate the internal discussion of good/less good areas and agreeing where to target improvements. The maturity of one major site we assessed needed to have two sets of results presented since two different areas of the site exhibited markedly different maturity levels.

More information on our Data Quality Maturity Assessments is here

Whether you undertake one of our Data Quality Maturity Assessments or one from another organisation, how can you improve your data quality management without measuring where you are?



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