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IAIDQ Publications

To a High IQ! Process Improvement: Core Competency for IQ/DQ Professionals
January 2005
Larry English

Defective data does not just mysteriously appear in your databases. It is caused by defective processes. Without process improvement, as long as you have defective processes you condemn yourself to a perpetual life of data cleansing or “information scrap and rework,” which is a preventable cost of nonquality.

The most significant tool in the IQ/DQ professional’s toolkit is the Shewhart Cycle, most commonly called PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act, and Six Sigma’s counterpart, called DMAIC that stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. To be sure there are other tools that we will discuss in other columns, but process improvement represents the Value-Adding tool required to enable you to significantly decrease those costs of nonquality information.

Process improvement is one of the fundamental principles of every valid quality management system, from Deming, Juran, Ishikawa, Imai (Kaizen) to the Baldrige Criteria and Six Sigma. Process Improvement is a required component of any Information Quality function to legitimately use the term “quality” in its title. World-class companies differentiate between process improvement (preventive maintenance) and scrap and rework (corrective maintenance) and have goals of a 65:35 ratio of money spent in process improvement to scrap and rework. Translated to IQ, this means, if we are world class we will be spending 65% of our time and money in improvement to improve processes versus no more than 35% of our time in data cleansing.

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