This is the fourteenth in a series of discussions of quality guru W. Edwards Deming's fourteen points of quality and their ramifications on data quality. Here I conclude my discussion of Deming's quality point 9, "Break Down Barriers Between Staff Areas." This month I describe the characteristics of quality application development methodologies that break down barriers between business areas. Application and data development methodologies are business processes such as business planning and product development or engineering. As such, they are subject to improvement as is any other process. In fact, the application and data development methodologies are vital processes because they create the "system" that enables or hinders the work of the organization. While application and database "products" may be built in three months to two years time, the resulting applications and databases will constrain or enable business processes for five to twenty-five years. Some organizations have core "legacy" applications and databases that are now more than thirty-five years old.

Quality application and data development methodologies must have a customer focus. This customer focus does not mean focusing on the customer who is paying for the application. Rather, a customer-focused methodology asks who are all the customers of the information products delivered by the application and who are the suppliers of information products required by the application. The best place to electronically capture information required by the application may not be within the scope of the application area.

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