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Help, I’ve got OCDQ!

CONFESSIONS OF A DATA ENTHUSIAST

Here at Experian Data Quality I am a Business Analyst so on a daily basis I spend my time analysing vast amounts of data. I love data so looking at spreadsheets and turning higgledy piggledy information into meaningful insights, is well my perfect job.

I have always been a perfectionist. But over time this has changed and adapted as I have moved through my working life. Over the last year or so my compulsion has taken on a new form

Data Quality.

In my quest for perfection I did some pretty intense Google searches and came across a highly relevant site. Jim Harris, a Data Quality Consultant has his own blog named the OCDQ blog (Obsessive- Compulsive Data Quality). Jim named his blog after his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies around data quality. I suggest you take a look at it (that’s if you haven’t discovered it already). He offers great thoughts and advice around data quality and its related disciplines.

As I read on I couldn’t believe my eyes. ‘OCDQ affects millions of people worldwide.’ As I stared gobsmacked at the screen, it suddenly occurred to me, I was one of them.

OCDQ had sneaked up on me overtime and without realising it, I too was a sufferer.

These are the symptoms that I suffer from:

  • A desperation to identify and fix Data Quality issues.
  • Aching to find the root cause of Data Quality errors.
  • The need for 6 monthly eye tests and headaches caused by eyeballing pages of data checking for errors or inconsistencies.

If any of the symptoms above sound familiar you may well be in the early grips of OCDQ!

Luckily, I have developed ways of taking control of my data affliction.

  • Acceptance – Accept that you are passionate about Data Quality. Once you do this you can tackle your OCDQ head on and with impact.
  • Understand the depth of the Data Quality problem you are dealing with. Until you fully understand the true extent of your data issues you will not be able to decipher what the best cure is for you. Next, identify what an acceptable level of data quality looks like for you. Understand where you want to be with you data so you can draw up the appropriate steps to get there.
  • Research – Research the best cures for Data Quality problems, compare tools and techniques to ensure you are best equipped to tackle the problem.
  • Repair – Decide which Data Quality problems cause you the most pain and start to tackle those first.
  • Grow – Build on the work you have already done and start to become proactive in your approach to the problem as opposed to reactive. It's important to remember that Data Quality is a journey. Once you have reached your objectives, start again. Your data will constantly be changing so it's important you keep revisiting your initial objectives.

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Seek help for the symptoms you are suffering and you too will be able to adjust to life with OCDQ.