Garbage in, garbage out. That's been the mantra of data managers for years.
While the subject of data quality has gotten more attention as companies look to deploy CRM or data warehouse systems, the enterprise resource planning, or ERP, world still has a long way to go. "Data quality may be the most overlooked issue and a significant reason for failure," said Ted Friedman, senior research director at GartnerGroup. "This is not just a CRM or data warehouse issue, it's an operational systems issue."
Although data integrity problems may not be as visible within ERP as with CRM or data warehouse systems, the result can be equally disastrous. "Years down the road, they'll find they're wasting time and money by not making very efficient tactical daily decisions," said Friedman.
And while software tools are available to alleviate some of the data integrity problems within ERP systems, they're not often used. "It's rare to see these things plugged into operational systems," said Friedman. Still, banks are more in tune with data quality issues than most other industries.
A case in point is National Australia Bank. One of the world's 50 largest financial institutions, the $250 billion bank has spent the past several years acquiring banks and related businesses worldwide. Managing its far-flung organizations throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom would prove impossible without an enterprise-wide view of its business.
To integrate and centralize its financial, HR, and management data, the bank chose an ERP system from SAP.
With KPMG Consulting Australia performing system integration, the bank began installing the ERP system with the expectation that it would go live progressively over the next 12 to 18 months.
But when data quality issues arose with the implementation of some of the modules, National Australia brought in Boston-based Vality Technology and its Integrity software to ensure successful data integration and on-time completion of its SAP implementation.
Members of Vality's Professional Services division are using Integrity to provide a fully automated data cleansing and integration solution that allows the SAP implementation to proceed with known levels of data content and reliability. In the first phase of the project, Vality has used Integrity software to investigate the diverse data sources to be loaded into the new SAP implementation, and to determine the scope of the data cleansing and integration challenge.
"Integrity shows the source data, warts and all, and allows managers within the implementation team to make informed decisions regarding data migration," said Phil Considine, vice president of sales, Australia and New Zealand, at Vality. "They spent some time getting to understand those issues from relatively small ones like missing information in source records to more complex HR record Integrity."