In my last column, I talked about building a culture of data quality. This month I would like to talk about implementing an enterprise data quality initiative. The best place to begin a data quality initiative is with the data that tells you how much money you're making and how much money you're spending - for example, data about your customers, vendors and products. This is your organization's master data. It's also the most valuable nonmonetary asset your organization owns.

Let's start with a more precise definition of master data. Master data can be defined as the information required to create and maintain an enterprise-wide "system of record" for your core business entities, in order to capture business transactions and measure results for these entities. Obviously, this master data spans all organizational business functions.

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