There are many companies who now offer the ability to outsource your data quality woes away. The idea being that perhaps complex data quality processing or cleansing can be facilitated by a more specialist or cost-effective option elsewhere, often overseas.
On paper this may look like sound business sense. Most organisations employ some kind of outsourcing arrangement these days, especially for IT services, so why not bundle data quality into the deal?
Now, before I’m flamed, let me say for the record I’m a massive fan of outsourcing, it has certainly helped me find specialist staff across the globe who have helped me solve a range of resourcing challenges for my own micro-business but I have one primary concern when it comes to data quality outsourcing and this is the issue of status quo preservation.
Outsourcing data quality is normally associated with the mechanical processing and transformation of data. Perhaps you’re deduplicating customer records or validating batches of equipment codes. Whatever the process, by moving this activity outside of your primary business operations you’re effectively handing out over control to a 3rd party.
In my experience, when this happens the process invariably gets forgotten and data quality is one activity that should never be forgotten. Data quality is a continuous improvement activity, with a focus on improving processes, not just data. By outsourcing data quality you simply persist the status quo and that doesn’t sit right with me.
Yes, it can make sense to outsource data warehousing administration, ETL management and even software development but something that involves quality should surely be firmly in-house, tightly managed and constantly reviewed.
Some data quality activities of course can be outsourced, such as monitoring, measuring, alerts, rule building and anything else that is peripheral to the core data quality function but in my opinion you should never outsource an entire quality process, data or otherwise.
But what do you think? Welcome your views.
the Data Roundtable.