Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What gets fixed first?

Dogs played a special role in ancient Greece. They had guard dogs, hunting dogs and dogs for herding. They even put a mythical guard dog at the gates of the dead - cerberus. Choosing the right puppy from a litter was an important skill. Making sure you had the very best of the litter could mean the difference between life and death.

One hunting dog expert advocated a special test to find out which puppy was the best. He decided to let the mother choose by taking the pups away from their mother, then placing taking an oil-soaked string in a circle around them and setting it on fire. The mother would jump over the ring and rescue each pup... one by one... in order of their merit. The first pup saved by the mother was obviously the best one.

Many people build data quality reporting tools with some kind of severity measure to ascertain priority. However, you will always get colleagues who will inflate the severity just to get their issue fixed first. There are others who will understate the risk to avoid repercussions. Naturally, some errors just stand out as being the most important. But when you have a massive list of data quality errors, go back to your consumers and ask them.... Which puppy gets saved first? 

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