Q:  

I'm trying to make a benchmarking about data quality software. What are the most important characteristics to compare?

A:  

Sid Adelman's Answer: Data quality encompasses many characteristics of the data, including compliance with business rules, conformance to valid values, completeness - especially for mandatory fields - timeliness and referential integrity. Data should be understandable, non-conflicting and non-redundant.

These are the starting characteristics of what needs to be evaluated for data quality:

  • Data elements that do not correspond to the valid values
  • Missing values in mandatory fields
  • Other missing values
  • Non-unique values in fields where the values should be unique
  • Violations of business rules (for example, a negative number of dependents, year of birth greater than the current date)
  • Invalid data types (for example, a "character" type that should be "packed decimal")

Joe Oates' Answer: The basic capabilities that the tool should include:

  • Domain value checking
    • Domain value checking deals with whether the values for a particular column conform to formal and/or logical value rules. Many products allow the user to specify these rules. Examples include:
      • If the column contains anything other than valid values that have been predefined for the column;
      • If the social security number contains all zeroes;
      • If a retired person's age is 17, something is wrong.
  • Data type
    • Are alpha characters in a numeric field and vice versa?
  • Frequency counts
    • If most of a company's customers are in the United States, then most rows should contain data about customers in the U.S.
  • Statistical counts
    • Min
    • Max
    • Average
  • Pattern checking
    • Telephone numbers in North America should be three characters for area code, three characters for the exchange and four characters for the subscriber number.
  • Interdependency between certain fields
    • Postal code is dependent on country, state/province and city.

There are other things that certain tools check, but these are the basics.

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