Building a data quality business case

Offering general advice on putting together a business case for a data quality initiative is challenging, because the business benefits and therefore payback are so dependent on specific circumstances. Here, however, are some key areas around which I’m constructing our justification, which I’ve tried to make sufficiently generic to be of wider use.

  • Website, Internet and miscellaneous data capture – our process relies on extensive manual effort for transposing/re-keying data, with very limited validation and standardisation etc, particularly for international data. Ironically, this has some benefits as there is a human element involved in matching incoming contact to existing data, but it’s hugely time consuming. If there’s any manual effort involved in your process, it’s an obvious source of efficiency gains and savings, not to mention quality improvement.
  • Address quality and duplication – based on various initial data quality assessments (such as outlined in Data health check previously), there is a 10% undeliverable and 3 % duplication rate among contacts in our database. Based on even a single direct mail execution per year, the waste in terms of undelivered and duplicated mail pieces is significant.
  • Campaign execution – list preparation effort (identification, selection, cleaning) can be greatly increased due to poor data issues, whilst limited targeting and segmentation may still only possible. According to a recent Aberdeen Group study (“Customer Data Quality: Roadmap for Growth and Profitability”, June 2007), “89% of Best-in-Class firms reported positive performance in the time necessary in preparing customer data” on improving their data quality.
  • Legal and best practice compliancy – the ability to reliably match new and existing data is crucial to recognising and observing privacy and other communication preferences. The reputational impact of not respecting contact preferences together with legal compliancy failure (especially in Europe) creates exposure to the risk of litigation or prosecution with potentially substantial penalties.
  • Lead quality and qualification – time savings and effectiveness benefits through more complete and informative leads (such as full contact details and organisation profile).
  • Time savings for general query resolution – reporting anomalies, data queries etc.

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