Imagine you had an employee who consistently withheld information from you. That same employee also regularly turned in incomplete and inaccurate work. Sometimes, they didn’t even show up to work at all. Would you settle for that kind of performance? Of course not! So why are you letting your data get away with that kind of behavior?

As you think back to this fictional employee, a lack of integrity might come to mind. So, it might not surprise you that the concept of ensuring your data is accurate, safe, and accessible is referred to as data integrity. In this blog, we’ll discuss data integrity, why it’s important, and how to ensure good data integrity.

What Is Data Integrity and Why Is It Important?

Data integrity is the overall accuracy, completeness, accessibility, consistency and security of your data. It is comprised of processes, rules, and methods to achieve and maintain these qualities. As far as why data integrity is important, there are several reasons. However, the main overarching reasons tend to fall into a couple of needs: data-based decisions, and compliance.

Data-Based Decisions

Data tends to inform almost all business processes and decisions these days. To quote W. Edwards Demming, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” The thing is, data-based decisions can really only be as good as the data you rely on. Data integrity helps guarantee the data powering your plans is accurate and completely reliable.

What’s more, data integrity ensures recoverability, traceability, and searchability of data. These can all be key nuances and bits of information that inform business decisions. With good data integrity, it should be easy to navigate your data and determine how it all connects.

Compliance

Complete data is always better, but in some industries, it’s the law. Imagine in the pharmaceutical field for example, that a new drug is being studied and set to roll out. Before they can do so, the FDA looks into their data to make sure this drug is safe and effective. Well, if there is a bit of data missing or bugs in the accuracy, that pharmaceutical company is going to be in big trouble. Not only will the FDA not approve their drug, but there may be legal ramifications. Plus they essentially wasted all of the time and resources they spent studying the drug since the data has no integrity.

Data Integrity Issues

Between the integrity of the raw data itself, and the integrity of its analysis, there is a lot of room for error and issues to arise. Let's take a look at some data integrity issues examples:

  • Human Error can come in multiple forms from entering data incorrectly, duplicating it, or omitting it altogether.
  • Transfer Errors can occur when transferring data from one spot to another. Data can get lost, altered, or damaged during transfer errors.
  • Bugs and Viruses like malware and spyware can alter, steal, or delete data. Compromised Hardware can result in sudden crashes or damaged physical property that stores the data.
  • Compromised hardware can result in malfunctioning data, lost, or altered data, or inaccessible data.
  • Staff turnover can result in data that goes missing or isn’t recorded before their departure. It can also lead to human errors if there is not a set protocol for how to handle data when some quits or is fired.

Data Integrity Best Practices

So what is good data integrity, and how do you achieve it? Some key steps for achieving reliable, trustworthy, and accessible data include:

  • Assessing your greatest risks to your data
  • Looking at your data early and often
  • Building a team of data experts (like us at Moser!)
  • Make data integrity a part of everything you do, not an afterthought
  • Simplify data lifecycles where you can

Human Integrity to Ensure Data Integrity…That’s Moser Consulting

As hall of fame football coach Tony Dungy once said, “Integrity does not come in degrees; low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t.” We believe that to be true of our employees and of your data. That’s why at Moser Consulting we have been helping companies find the IT talent and insights they need to be successful for over 20 years. So, when it comes to hiring data experts you can trust, or using the tools you need, Moser is your destination. Contact us today and find out how we can help you thrive!