“We hold these truths to be self-evident” (or do you trust your data?)

“We hold these truths to be self evident”

Us declaration independence

Thomas Jefferson’s famous introduction to the United States Declaration of independence declares, with confidence, that the views expressed within that famous document are indisputable, and require no defence.

Do you have the same confidence in your BI reports?

If you do, is your confidence justified?

Some (mostly BI vendors) would argue that any decision is better than no decision.

In this case, why bother with reports at all?

Simply go with your gut, as discussed in The unbearable truthiness of analytics

If you are relying on reporting to enable you to make an informed decision then you need answers to two key questions.

  1. Where does my data come from? In most organisations data is split across a multitude of operational and master data systems. Key sales figures, for example, may be sourced from a departmental system for one report, and from the enterprise CRM system for another. This can cause inconsistency and confusion if, as is common, different systems hold different views of similar data. The ability to trace the source, or lineage, of your data is a key data governance function.
  2. Is the quality of my source data adequate? There is no point in reporting on “Sales per Quarter” if you are not capturing the date of sale for many of your records. Data quality measures will give you an indication of the degree of confidence with which other metrics can be used, as discussed in Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Together, data governance and data quality can empower you to make better decisions, by allowing you to use key reports when they can be relied upon, and by giving you the focus as to where to improve those reports that cannot be trusted.

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