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As part of a corporate-wide, one-instance implementation of ERP (SAP R/3) we are rethinking master data maintenance and data quality.

  • Sid Adelman, Clay Rehm, Les Barbusinski
  • January 13 2003, 1:00am EST
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As part of a corporate-wide, one-instance implementation of ERP (SAP R/3) we are rethinking master data maintenance and data quality – both the process and how to organize to implement the process. Initially, it would seem major changes are needed especially in the areas of customer, material and related financial data. I am familiar with Larry English's work. What other sources are there to direct our efforts? Any body of knowledge of real-life lessons learned, etc.?


Sid Adelman’s Answer: Take a look at Michael Brackett’s books, Data Resource Quality and The Data Warehouse Challenge, also David Loshin’s book, Enterprise Knowledge Management: The Data Quality Approach. Joyce Bischoff’s book, Data Warehouse: Practical Advice from the Experts has a chapter I wrote on data quality. Trillium Software has some white papers on data quality on

Les Barbusinski’s Answer: Aside from Larry English’s excellent body of work I would highly recommend two books written by Thomas C. Redman: Data Quality For The Information Age (1996) and Data Quality: The Field Guide (2001). The first catalogs various data quality issues, provides recommendations on how best to address them and presents case studies to illustrate key concepts and best practices. The second provides a practical guide for establishing a data quality program within an IT organization. The first book is available directly from the publisher (, while the other is available on Amazon and most technical book stores.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: I would recommend that you find sources related to data stewardship. One of the main goals of data stewardship is the responsibility to manage information with proper regard to the needs of the company. Data stewards are responsible for creating a culture that establishes and maintains information integrity through common definition, quality standards and processes, and appropriate security for the information resource at your company.

The data stewardship program includes:

  • Big picture considerations for data;
  • Strategic in nature;
  • Identification/documentation of legal and regulatory restrictions, including retention and governance of sensitive data;
  • Authorization to resolve business issues concerning the information;
  • Responsiblity for establishing key data definitions to be used enterprise-wide;
  • Accountability for information content and quality;
  • Definition/validation of definitions, domain values and business rules for a discrete and specific set of information;
  • Establishment of data quality standards;
  • Data access security procedure.

A gradual way to implement data stewardship is to appoint a data steward of the end-user sponsor or the power user from the first iteration of your ERP or a data warehouse project. For example, as the data warehouse grows, a new data steward can be added from each new subject area or function. The best way to assign responsibility to data stewards is to have one data steward per subject area.

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