Mandy Mackay provides the New Zealand Ministry of Justice Data Quality Framework and a detailed account of how they developed it.
New Zealand Ministry of Justice Data Quality Framework
+ interview with Mandy Mackay
Creating a data quality framework is an admirable achievement for any organisation and witnessing its implementation with immediate benefits gained is a major milestone on the road to long-term data quality success. The New Zealand Ministry of Justice has recently achieved this very goal and Mandy Mackay, Data Quality Analyst and key driver for the initiative, explains how they delivered it.
In addition, the New Zealand Ministry of Justice also kindly provide the final data quality framework document for the benefit of members of Data Quality Pro.
Data Quality Pro: Where did the inspiration and initiative come from to create the data quality framework for the Ministry of Justice?
Mandy Mackay: The inspiration for the Data Quality Framework came from assessing the existing tools across the justice sector. We realised that although we had some good standalone data quality and data analysis tools they did not cover the full data lifecycle.
Agencies were working hard on data quality assessments, making recommendations that were being reviewed year after year but not necessarily being implemented.
Data Quality Pro: In addition to your own knowledge, what materials or expertise did you draw upon in order to create the data quality framework?
Mandy Mackay: I attended the DQ Asia Pacific Conference 2008 in Sydney which was very inspiring.
This event provided me with a lot of direction and materials for the framework.
The creation of the framework was based on some of the knowledge gained from speakers at the conference, various internet searches carried out on data quality, existing Ministry and Justice Sector documentation, Statistics NZ Data Quality Assessment Methodology, and obviously drawing on my own data quality experience and background.
Data Quality Pro: How long did the data quality framework take to complete?
Mandy Mackay: In total, the data quality framework took about four months to complete.
This includes the time from sourcing information to getting final approval from the Justice Sector Information Strategy Management Committee.
Data Quality Pro: How has the framework been received?
Mandy Mackay: Feedback on the Data Quality Framework has been very positive.
Agencies are telling us that the framework has enabled them to work through the full data quality process and identify areas for improvement.
All Ministry of Justice sector agency representatives can see benefits for their agency in using the framework and actively encourage its use.
DQ Pro: What are your immediate plans for incorporating the data quality framework into ongoing improvements?
Mandy Mackay: The next steps are to complete a data quality assessment using the framework for ethnicity data.
The aim is to complete a quantitative measure and start a scorecard approach as a monitoring and reporting tool for data quality.
Data Quality Pro: And beyond this?
Mandy Mackay: In terms of future work I would like to have a complete collection of data definitions that are referenced by end users and methodologies for each of the data quality lifecycle stages described in the Data Quality Framework.
Acknowledging the vast amount of data shared in the justice sector, I plan to use the Data Quality Framework to develop an ongoing approach to improving data quality in the long term.
Data Quality Pro: On a personal note, what path has your DQ journey taken so far?
Mandy Mackay: I have assisted in business development through improving data quality for five years.
Initially working for high profile law firm, Russell McVeagh, as Services Administrator and National ISO Coordinator, I found my niche developing data quality process improvement initiatives and spreading the "value of data quality" rumour.
Wanting the next challenge I moved to NZ Post and worked with the retail national service desk to improve reporting for the board. From NZ Post, I moved to my current role in the government sector as Data Quality Analyst with the Ministry of Justice.
My role in the Ministry of Justice is responsible for a range of activities focusing on the data quality and integrity of shared justice sector information. This role works with justice sector agencies on initiatives that contribute to improving the quality of the collection, maintenance, storage, and sharing of justice sector information.
Data Quality Pro: Living in New Zealand, what kind of data quality community exists there?
Mandy Mackay: So far, I have not really found a well developed data quality community here in New Zealand but I would be very keen to support any initiative that develops this.
I really welcome the opportunity to connect with other data quality practitioners and take this forward. I can be contacted via my profile here on Data Quality Pro.
Data Quality Pro: What lessons can you share with people considering a future career in data quality?
Mandy Mackay: In New Zealand, I would suggest that you need to be comfortable with people having no idea what it is that you do.
If I had $5 for every time someone said to me "What does a Data Quality Analyst do?" or "Those kinds of roles don't come around very often" I would be a rich woman!
Finding a position where you can develop data quality skills is tough so you do need to be prepared to persevere.
On a practical level, before I found my data quality position, it was difficult to find recruitment agents that understood what data quality actually meant.
When I was starting out I was always referred for Business Analyst roles with a strong technical focus - not my area of expertise; I am far more interested in the process and delivering to business needs with a focus on continuous improvement.
Data quality to me does not feel like rocket science - it makes absolute, complete, and utter sense and I continue to be surprised that the world has come this far without data quality being the essential discipline for every company.
Despite having learned a considerable amount in my data quality journey so far, I am still an enthusiastic student of the data quality community and I am grateful to have finally found like minded people.
I think one of the keys to building a career in data quality is to continually push yourself to learn and develop new skills, don't settle for what you already know.
So in terms of passing down advice to those entering the profession I would strongly advocate that you absorb as much information from conferences, publications, websites like Data Quality Pro.com and develop a close network of trusted professionals who have the same goals as yourself.
Photo credit: cc Mazzali