Reference data is one classification of information that must be zero defect. The term "reference data" is actually a poor term relative to the importance of the information represented. First, the term represents a data-centric view rather than a business-centric view. Reference data is data in one file referenced by records in other files. The business significance is that reference data makes important classifications of objects and events of interest to the enterprise.

Classifications such as gender make a difference in what medical diagnoses and procedures are valid for a health provider and whether reimbursement is appropriate by an insurance company. Order type classifications in retail and wholesale make a difference as to what pricing rules apply. Get the classification wrong, and you invoice for the wrong price. Country code classifications dictate which address format is appropriate for international mailing. Millions of pieces of mail go astray because of incorrect address formats.

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