For those of us that have lived, eaten, and slept with data quality and data management it is hard to fathom that there are still pockets of those that have yet to define a solid foundation of data quality and data management best practices. It is even harder still to take a step (leap) back into the roots of how data quality and data management issues all began. Well, let me tell you, those pockets of organizations are alive and well in the most unlikely places – those companies that are providing data.
To be fair, there are some amazing companies out there that provide information and data that we use to improve and enhance our own data or take to analyze independently. They may not be perfect (no one is!). Though, they have defined themselves as servicing organizations with “better quality data” and stand by it with best practices of their own. But, as enterprise organizations and even mid-sized companies have jumped on the band wagon and adopted sophisticated processes, solutions, and people that are dedicated to better information, there are still a significant number of services providers that lack the skills, tools, and practices that would ensure reliable information to measure our performance, understand our market, and take advantage of new opportunities.
At the end of the day, the data and information we source needs to be reliable. It is important to guard yourself when both contracting with service providers and when you receive data. Simply relying on the fact that the data is of high quality when you receive it is not good enough. You need to be vigilant during the sourcing of providers as well as clearly defining how you can ensure what you received is what you paid for. Here are some things to consider and ask when working with data providers:
- How do they collect their information?
- How do they verify that the information is valid? What process, sources, and analysis is used?
- Are they providing data to other customers for the same purpose you need the information for? How many/what portion?
- What is their repeat business rate? Who are their top customers?
- What purposes are their customers using their data?
- What do they do to verify and validate your data prior to providing it to you?
- What do they do to verify that the data they are providing is complete?
- What guarantees do they or will they provide that the data meets your specifications and quality standards?
- What is required on your end to validate that the data is accurate and reliable?
- If you are purchasing tracking data (real time/period feeds), what initial and regular testing processes used to verify proper data transfers?
- What is required on your end to ensure the data transfer is working initially and ongoing?
What have you done to ensure data from service providers is what you want?