When working with customer, or rather party, master data management and related data quality improvement and prevention for traditional offline and some online purposes, you will most often deal with names, addresses and national identification numbers.
While this may be tough enough for domestic data, doing this for international data is a daunting task.
In reality there should be no difference between dealing with domestic data and international data when it comes to names, as people in today’s globalized world move between countries and bring their names with them.
Traditionally the emphasize on data quality related to names has been on dealing with the most frequent issues be that heaps of nick names in the United States and other places, having a “van” in bulks of names in the Netherlands or having loads of surname like middle names in Denmark.
With company names there are some differences to be considered like the inclusion of legal forms in company names as told in the post Legal Forms from Hell.
Address formats varies between countries. That’s one thing.
The availability of public sources for address reference data varies too. These variations are related to for example:
- Coverage: Is every part of the country included?
- Depth: Is it street level, house number level or unit level?
- Costs: Are reference data expensive or free of charge?
As told in the post Postal Code Musings the postal code system in a given country may be the key (or not) to how to deal with addresses and related data quality.
National Identification Numbers
The post called Business Entity Identifiers includes how countries have different implementations of either all-purpose national identification numbers or single-purpose national identification numbers for companies.
The same way there are different administrative practices for individuals, for example:
- As I understand it is forbidden by constitution down under to have all-purpose identification numbers for individuals.
- The United States Social Security Number (SSN) is often mentioned in articles about party data management. It’s an example of a single-purpose number in fact used for several purposes.
- In Scandinavian countries all-purpose national identification numbers are in place as explained in the post Citizen ID within seconds.
Dealing with diversity
Managing party master data in the light of the above mentioned differences around the world isn’t simple. You need comprehensive data governance policies and business rules, you need elaborate data models and you need a quite well equipped toolbox regarding data quality prevention and exploiting external reference data.