CHICAGO, June 12th - It took six months. Six months into the SAP implementation, data issues started raising executive temperatures. And yes, it was a bit of a surprise for many - partly because the SAP implementation was already delivering better controls, process automation and integration, but mostly, as puzzled managers were quick to point out, because data quality had already been heavily addressed in the early SAP planning stages.

What exactly was the problem? No sustaining framework. The company had failed to develop an effective management framework to make sure that data quality - once achieved - could be continuously maintained. Thus, data quality had deteriorated to a point where senior management now considered it a major contributing factor to a number of problems such as unreconciled financial reports, failure of key system interfaces and automation bottlenecks. Outside advisors were called in. Twenty-three interviews and three workshops were conducted - all coordinated by the company's data quality center of excellence (CoE).

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