What to Read Next
Already a member?Sign in
Many managers believe that quality information is key to their success. Do they act on that belief? Not convincingly. Most senior executives have experienced the costs of decisions based on poor information. Most general managers have dealt with the frustration of knowing that they have data within the firm but they cannot access it in the integrated form needed.1 Most chief information officers have faced the discomfort of explaining why, in light of the company’s costly investments in IT, the data are of poor quality or inaccessible. Firms recognize the need for quality information and many strive to satisfy it. All too often, however, the results are disappointing.
During the past decade, we have investigated the information quality problems that organizations encountered. What clearly stands out from our research is the need for companies to treat information as a product. Often, however, companies treat information as a by-product; they focus on the systems or the events that produce the information instead of the information content. To treat information as a product, a company must follow four principles:
- Understand consumers’ information needs.
- Manage information as the product of a well-defined production process.
- Manage information as a product with a life cycle.
- Appoint an information product manager (IPM) to manage the information processes and resulting product.
We call the application of these principles the information product (IP) approach. It is the keystone on which the delivery of high-quality information depends. In this article, we argue for adoption of the IP approach and provide a framework for its implementation. We use four cases, drawn from our field research experiences, to illustrate the IP approach’s principles and the negative consequences that result without them.
Introducing the Cases
Financial Company is a leading investment bank with extensive domestic and international operations. Its customers needed to trade immediately after opening a new account. The new account had to be linked to other accounts that the customer may have opened, and the information in all accounts had to be accurate, up to date, and consistent. The bank required real-time account balance information to enforce minimum account balance rules across a customer’s multiple accounts. Failure to obtain that information exposed the bank to potentially large monetary losses. By statute, the bank had to close all of a customer’s accounts when informed by federal authorities of criminal activities by that customer. Adhering to the statute required timely, integrated information.
Read the Full ArticleAlready a subscriber? Sign in
1. S. E. Madnick, “Database in the Internet Age,” Database Programming & Design, January 1997, pp. 28–33.
2. T.C. Kinnear and K. Bernhardt, Principles of Marketing, third edition (Glenview, Illinois: Scott Foresman/Little, Brown, 1990).
3. R.Y. Wang, Y.W. Lee, and D. Strong, “Can You Defend Your Information in Court?,” Proceedings of the 1996 Conference on Information Quality (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Total Data Quality Management Program, 1996), pp. 53–64.
4. B.K. Kahn, D.M. Strong, and R.Y. Wang, “Information Quality Benchmarks: Product and Service Performance,” Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, forthcoming.
5. P.B. Crosby, Quality Without Tears (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984);
E.W. Deming, Out of the Crisis (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1986); and
A.V. Feigenbaum, Total Quality Control, third edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991).
6. M.H. Meyer and M.H. Zack, “The Design and Development of Information Products,” Sloan Management Review, volume 37, Spring 1996, pp. 43–59.
7. D.A. Garvin, “Quality on the Line,” Harvard Business Review, volume 61, September–October 1983, pp. 65–75.
8. J.M. Juran, Juran on Leadership for Quality: An Executive Handbook (New York: Free Press, 1989).
9. J.R. Hauser and D. Clausing, “The House of Quality,” Harvard Business Review, volume 66, May–June 1988, pp. 63–73.
10. D.M. Strong, Y.W. Lee, and R.Y. Wang, “Data Quality in Context,” Communications of the ACM, volume 40, May 1997, pp. 103–110.
11. R.Y. Wang and D.M. Strong, “Beyond Accuracy: What Data Quality Means to Data Consumers,” Journal of Management Information Systems, volume 12, Spring 1996, pp. 5–34.
12. R.Y. Wang, “A Product Perspective on Total Data Quality Management,” Communications of Association for Computing Machinery, volume 41, February 1998, pp. 58–65.
13. D.P. Ballou, R.Y. Wang, H. Pazer, and G.K.Tayi, “Modeling Information Manufacturing Systems to Determine Information Product Quality,” Management Science, volume 44, April 1998, pp. 462–484; and
D.M. Strong and S.M. Miller, “Exceptions and Exception Handling in Computerized Information Processes,” ACM Transactions on Information Systems, volume 13, issue 2, 1995, pp. 206–233.
14. P. Cykana, A. Paul, and M. Stern, “DoD Guidelines on Data Quality Management,” Proceedings of the 1996 Conference on Information Quality (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Total Data Quality Management Program, 1996), pp. 154–171.
15. ISO 9000 International Standards for Quality Management (Geneva, Switzerland: International Standard Organization, 1992).
16. J. Sandberg, “At Thousands of Web Sites, Time Stands Still: Many Web Sites Need Updating,” The Wall Street Journal, 11 March 1997, p. B1.
17. Y.W. Lee, D.M. Strong, L. Pipino, and R.Y. Wang, A Methodology-Based Software Tool for Total Data Quality Management (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Total Data Quality Management Program, TDQM-97-02, 1997).
18. Information Quality Assessment Survey: Administrator’s Guide (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge Research Group, 1997).