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Plain English about Information Quality:
IQ Problems are Pervasive - and Wasteful

  Column published in DM Review Magazine
August 2005 Issue
  By Larry English

Very few weeks go by during which I do not encounter any information quality problems. Just this week alone, I experienced the following four IQ problems. The names are fictional; the facts are true.

1. One day this week, we received a phone message from Violet of our maid service, calling to confirm that she would be over the next day to clean our house. My wife, Diane, thought this was an old message because we now had a new maid, Jenny, who had started the previous week. Violet called again the next morning to confirm her appointment because we had not called back. Diane explained the situation. Violet called the maid service and learned that she had called the wrong house. She told us Jenny was coming to clean our house that day. Diane called Jenny and told her not to come because we only use her every other week.

IQ Issue: The schedule for work was either incorrect, or the scheduler had not assigned staff correctly.

Cost to Company: Approximately one hour (20 minutes of time for each maid and 30 minutes of the scheduler's time).

Cost to Customer: Diane spent 20 minutes resolving this.

2. We had some landscaping done this week. When Tom, our landscaper, first submitted his plan, Diane and I reviewed it and faxed a detailed diagram of our changes. However, when Tom came to our house, his drawing lacked the changed requirements.

IQ Issue: Tom did not modify his plan to our changed requirements.

Cost to Company: Four hours.

Cost to Customer: Diane and I spent approximately one hour providing a correct diagram and supervision.

IQ Note: Reviewing their plan prior to planting saved 16 hours of scrap and rework (four hours installation time for four people) and the potential loss of some plants due to replanting shock.

3. The landscaping required the installation of a French drain. The irrigation company manager met the crew on our job and described the requirements. As the workers were finishing up, our inspection found they installed only half of the French drain. They were then required to install the drain correctly. The irrigation company manager later called to explain our bill because it was several hundred dollars more than his estimate. When I questioned it because of the inefficient use of the crew's time, he deducted $500.

IQ Issue: There was miscommunication between manager and crew chief. The manager should have confirmed with the crew chief that he understood the work to be done.

Cost to Company: $500 for approximately one hour of the crew's time in scrap and rework.

Cost to Customer: Diane and I spent approximately one hour in supervision.

IQ Note: By reviewing their work before they left, we saved the company $500 of trip time to come back to do the rework.

4. Diane's father had a CD come due. He wanted to roll over $93,000.56 into two investments. He asked the bank for his money in two checks, one for $23,000 and the other for the remainder. The teller assisting my father-in-law decided to calculate this transaction in her head. She made the first check out for $23,000 and the second check for $73,000.56 - $3,000 more than the actual amount due. Diane's father went to a different bank and bought a new CD with one of the checks. He deposited the $23,000 check in his savings account that had a balance of $7,000, and wrote a $30,000 check for a CD at yet another different bank. The first bank did discover its error and contacted Diane's father about the $3,000 overage - and corrected it.

IQ Issue: Because the teller did not employ error-proofing, she made an error.

Cost to Company: Approximately one hour of staff time, plus the cost of adjustments.

Cost to Customer: Diane's father spent more than an hour dealing with this situation and was improperly assessed an "insufficient funds" charge.

What do you think? Let me know at Larry.English@infoimpact.com.




For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Data Quality.

Larry P. English is president and principal of INFORMATION IMPACT International, Inc., Brentwood, Tennessee, and the author of the widely acclaimed book, Improving Data Warehouse and Business Information Quality: Methods for Reducing Costs and Increasing Profits. English is cofounder of the International Association for Information and Data Quality (www.iaidq.org). English is an internationally recognized speaker, teacher, consultant and author and may be reached at larry.english@infoimpact.com or through his Web site at www.infoimpact.com. For more on how to improve your IQ principles and techniques, and prevent your organization from wasting millions in information scrap and rework, join the IAIDQ (visit www.iaidq.org).

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