Human Errors and Data Quality

Every time there is a survey about what causes poor data quality the most ticked answer is human error. This is also the case in the Profisee 2019 State of Data Management Report where 58% of the respondents said that human error is among the most prevalent causes of poor data quality within their organization.

This topic was also examined some years ago in the post called The Internet of Things and the Fat-Finger Syndrome.

Errare humanum estEven the Romans new this as Seneca the Younger said that “errare humanum est” which translates to “to err is human”. He also added “but to persist in error is diabolical”.

So, how can we not persist in having human errors in data then? Here are three main approaches:

  • Better humans: There is a whip called Data Governance. In a data governance regime you define data policies and data standards. You build an organizational structure with a data governance council (or any better name), have data stewards and data custodians (or any better title). You set up a business glossary. And then you carry on with a data governance framework.
  • Machines: Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) has, besides operational efficiency, the advantage of that machines, unlike humans, do not make mistakes when they are tired and bored.
  • Data Sharing: Human errors typically occur when typing in data. However, most data are already typed in somewhere. Instead of retyping data, and thereby potentially introduce your misspelling or other mistake, you can connect to data that is already digitalized and validated. This is especially doable for master data as examined in the article about Master Data Share.

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