People, process and technology. All three are necessary for success on your data quality project. By far, the most important of the three is people. However, who exactly are some of the most important people on your data quality project?
Or to phrase the question in a much more entertaining way...
Who are The Three Musketeers of Data Quality?
1. Athos, the Executive Sponsor - Provides the mandate for the Business and IT to forge an ongoing and iterative collaboration throughout the entire project. You might not see him roaming the halls or sitting in on most of the meetings. However, Athos provides oversight and arbitrates any issues of organization politics. Without an executive sponsor, a data quality project can not get very far and can easily lose momentum or focus. Perhaps most importantly, Athos is also usually the source of the project's funding.
2. Porthos, the Project Manager - Facilitates the strategic and tactical collaboration of the project team. Knowledge about data, business processes and supporting technology are spread throughout your organization. Neither the Business nor IT alone has all of the necessary information required to achieve data quality success. Porthos coordinates discussions with all of the stakeholders. Business users are able to share their knowledge in their natural language and IT users are able to “geek out” in techno-babble. Porthos clarifies communication by providing bi-directional translation. He interprets end user business requirements, explains technical challenges and maintains an ongoing dialogue between the Business and IT. Yes, Porthos is also responsible for the project plan. But he realizes that project management is more about providing leadership.
3. Aramis, the Subject Matter Expert - Provides detailed knowledge about specific data subject areas and business processes. Aramis reviews the reports from the data quality assessments and provides feedback based on his understanding of how the data is actually being used. He helps identify the data most valuable to the business. Aramis will often be an excellent source for undocumented business rules and can quickly clarify seemingly complex issues based on his data-centric point of view.
Alexandre Dumas fans will recall the novel's plucky primary protagonist was an outsider who became the Fourth Musketeer and yes, data quality has one too:
4. D'Artagnan, the Data Quality Consultant - Provides extensive experience and best practices from successful data quality implementations. Most commonly, d'Artagnan is a certified expert with the data quality tool you have selected. D'Artagnan's goal is to help you customize a technical solution to your specific business needs. Unlike the Dumas character, your d'Artagnan usually doesn't accept the Musketeer commission at the end of the project. Therefore, his primary responsibility is to make himself obsolete as quickly as possible by providing mentoring, documentation, training and knowledge transfer.
Your data quality project will typically have more than one person (and obviously not just men) playing each of these classic roles although you may use different job titles. Additionally, there will be many other important people on your project playing many other key roles, such as data architect, business analyst, application developer and system tester - to name just a few.
Data quality truly takes a team effort. Remember that you are all in this together.
So if anyone asks you who is the most important person on your project, then just respond with the Musketeer Motto:
"All for Data Quality, Data Quality for All"