Tuesday, 31 July 2012

When is a problem not a problem?

One of your colleagues comes to you with a problem. There is a field in one of the marts that is not being populated. The data is being collected in your production database, it is just not being passed into your mart.

An analysis of your mart produces interesting results. The field has never had the data added. This is where we get into the world of the defect vs feature.

I have heard the term 'feature' politely used for something that ought to work, but was either not tested, overlooked at testing or the problem was discovered so late that a decision was made to implement without it. There is significantly less desire within your IS department to correct a 'feature' than a true deviation from agreed process ('if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it'). The longer the time span between implementation and discovery of the feature, the more reluctant your colleagues will become to fix it.

It is very easy to become cynical when faced by vigorous challenges from your technical areas around remediation of features. You may have tried to fix the problem before, but with the advent of new disciplines like data quality, there is much more support available for getting these problems remediated.

So the answer is, a problem is always a problem - no matter how orwellian the description is. Some may choose to reframe the issue, but the truth is that it never worked properly. The 'feature' is still a problem. Screw your courage to the sticking post. Assert yourself. Engage your data quality section. Get it fixed.

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