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February 2013

Hindsight: The case of the faulty data quality process

A few years ago, the finance department of a major telecommunications company turned over its fixed asset record ledger -- an official accounting of property such as cell towers -- and a $5 billion budget sheet to independent auditors, who found discrepancies in the company's data that pointed to possible problems in its data quality process. The project: Chris Levitt, a member of the Technology Business Management Council, a nonprofit organization that makes recommendations for best IT practices and benchmarks, was an IT risk manager for a consultancy at the time. He was brought in to lead a team of technicians and evaluators to find the gaps between the telecom's actual assets and what was documented in the ledger. The evaluators sifted through the ledger data, comparing what was recorded with a master list of the company's property and identifying areas that didn't match up. In some cases, the amount the company paid for an asset and its depreciated value were missing, sending the team members back to the original contract ...

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