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Key Performance Indicators for Information Quality Part 1 — What to Measure
July 2009
Daragh O Brien

Peter Drucker wrote that if something isn’t measured it doesn’t get done. An unfortunate corollary of this truism is that people will tend to do what they are measured on, often to the detriment of other things. Thus, Key Performance Indicators are a double edged sword, and thus the reason why W. Edwards Deming admonished management to “Eliminate dependence on numerical quotas.”

However, if you are not measuring performance in some way you cannot track improvement, so some form of KPIs are required for organizations. But as measuring the wrong thing might do more harm than good, care must be taken to ensure that the correct measures are chosen. As a matter of general principle, a key performance indicator should be aligned with a key objective of the organization. After all, they are key performance indicators.  

So, how do you identify key measures that are aligned with your key organization objectives? In an earlier article for the IAIDQ I introduced the concept of Strategy Maps (courtesy of Kaplan and Norton) and how they could be used to identify the “Information Quality Opportunity” at various levels of your organization’s strategic and business level objectives. One approach would be to conduct this type of mapping exercise with your executive team. By identifying where poor quality information will impede the strategic mission of the business you can very quickly move to identifying the key attributes of information that would prevent those objectives from being met.