Planning a Graduation Party

Having gotten that degree or diploma is a great achievement that definitely needs to be celebrated.  Completing the years required to get this far is not an easy task and that is why you need to acknowledge the effort and time spent.

However, planning a party for your graduate may be overwhelming because you want it to be very memorable.

Here are a few things you can do to make the planning process simpler:

Come up with a budget

The joy of having your loved one fulfill their dreams and make you proud may lead you to splurge and use up too much money. This should be avoided by having a budget because without it you end up getting things that are not necessary.

Graduation partyTake time to and note down everything that you would need and how much it will cost. Afterward go back to your budget and see whether you have exceeded your limit. If that is the case then consider making some adjustments and see what you can do without.

Pick a venue

Now that you have allocated cash to everything you need, it is time to decide on where the party will be held. If your budget does not allow this, you can hold the party at the open space outside your house. However, if you have money specifically allocated for this, then scout for places that suit what you have in mind. Do this in advance and book a slot for the day of the party to make sure you do not miss out on your ground.

Pick the date

Just knowing that you want to hold the party before or after the graduation is not enough. You have to get your calendar and pick a day preferably during the weekend because that’s when most people are free. While you pick a day also remember to consider the availability of your party grounds.

Having your date will help ease up a lot of issues and you can plan better and inform your guests earlier.

Send out the invitation cards

When it comes to preparing and sending the invitation cards, you need to have a list of people you intend to invite, a location, a date and how they can RSVP.

You can easily prepare this yourself if you don’t have the budget for it and make it an online invitation. Craft an invitation card on a site like Canva then send them out to everyone’s inbox.

However, if you do have the money for this then have them professionally made and delivered to everyone’s doorstep. Don’t forget to include why you are inviting them and what the party is about.

Choose a party theme

Be unique as you choose a theme for your party. Let the party reflect your graduate’s personality. It should also be a theme that encourages him/her to go hard and continue pursuing his/her dream. Having graduated is not the end, it is only a start to a new chapter of their lives and reflecting this would be a welcome encouragement.

Hire extra help

There are various professionals that specialize in the execution of your dream party. Be it the decoration, food preparation or entertainment you will definitely find someone that has done these things a few times. This will help you ease the burden of planning the party.

Chefs preparing your party mealsIf your budget allows it you should hire a private chef to cook your meals. This will not only be more efficient and easier but also ensure you get the best food according to your specifications.

Get the refreshments

Go for shopping in advance, since you will have a rough idea of how many people will be attending. Get all the refreshments and anything else needed to provide a wonderful experience for your guests.

Have a list with you to ensure you do not leave anything out.


Take time to curate a really nice mix tape with amazing songs that will be enjoyed by your guests. However, if your budget allows it, get yourself a professional DJ with all the equipment needed. This will help ease your mind and be sure that the party will be full of entertainment.

Come up with games that you can play together with your guests. This will ensure that you get to bond, interact and laugh all day. It will definitely be a day to be remembered by your graduate.


This is a day to be remembered so you have to invest in some good photography services. Outsource your photography needs to a qualified photographer/videographer. This will ensure you capture all the moments either on video or as photos. You can rest assured that all the photos and videos will be visually appealing and very clear. Your graduate will definitely not forget this wonderful day you had planned for him/her.


Take your graduate out for some shopping and let him/her choose the attire they’d want to wear on their special day. You could also go the extra mile and buy them what to wear as a surprise. Just be sure to know all the measurements to avoid buying something that won’t be of any use to them.

Planning a graduation party is not an easy task. It requires proper planning, patience, and execution. Take your time to prepare yourself for the process ahead and be open to any change and adjustment you would need to make. Do not shy away from asking for help where it is needed.

When it comes to the day of the party be sure to have fun and enjoy all you have been waiting and planning for. Make sure you get a gift for your graduate for him/her to remember you and the beautiful day by.

Do’s and Don’ts When Managing a Shared Enterprise

Managing money—People don’t usually learn it in high school or college. You can learn all the accounting and financial skills, but if you don’t know how to handle your money, then all these lessons are just put in the bin. These lessons only serve as guidelines, and it is always up to you on how you are going to apply them. If you are an entrepreneur, the challenge is even higher for you regarding managing your money. Finance is the lifeblood of your business, so you need to be wise with money if you want to succeed.

The challenge is even higher if you are in a shared enterprise, meaning, you share ownership of the business with other people. When you are in a partnership, you may share different views with your co-owners and co-investors, so instead of putting all your talents into good use, you end up fighting over decisions.

Business decisions need partner approvalBut many shared enterprises also succeed, thanks to partners who share the same views, goals, and principles in business. More than their differences, they think, first and foremost, of the interests of the company. If you get to partner with these kinds of people, then you are lucky. But if your partners are self-centered and would always think of their interests, then you have a lot of things to consider to make the partnership work.

Based on the many success stories of shared enterprises, here are some tips to help your business reach its goals:

1. Plan expenses in advance

Think of yourself as the CEO and CTO of your company. How will you go about managing your company’s finances? Always think like a business owner, because this helps you get in the zone of being in charge of things you do. Even outside of business, think like a business owner. Think of budget, allocations, and expenses in advance for your finances. Or if all else fails, get the outsourced tempCFO accounting services to rescue from the challenge of crunching numbers. Nothing beats careful planning on how you will disburse cash or spend your money on so that you won’t go broke.

2. Closely monitor your accounts

Always do a regular check of your income statements and list of expenses. It will give you a clear picture of how much you have spent vis-a-vis how much you have earned. Keep an eye on your net worth which tells you how your income or earnings stand against liabilities and expenses.

Record each expense regularly, on a monthly or quarterly basis as much as possible so you can see how much you have spent for the previous month or quarter. It also helps you plan and budget for upcoming expenditures.

3. Take note of your tendency to invest on impulse

It is essential to identify which are your needs and which are just nice to have or which you can live without. Do not be tempted by attractive promises of growth and success. A lot of those ads are emotional marketing and cater to your deepest desires and wants. Before signing up for an investment plan, think twice. A lot of careless investors spend more than what they initially planned to spend because they fell to the bait. Be aware that advertising firms hire social scientists who are experts in human behavior and psychology in order to increase sales of products and services. Do not fall prey to these tactics. Be wise and aware of what you need.

Some reminders to help you be aware:

  1. One-day rule. It is best to always give yourself time at least twenty-four hours before deciding to buy something or invest in something. It will help you analyze the situation from a broader perspective.
  2. Keep in touch with your goals, so you avoid spending unnecessarily.
  3. Identify the emotions you feel when listening to sales talk. Ask: What is this ad selling?
  4. Use cash whenever possible for a sudden or unplanned expense. Buy on credit only for convenience purpose and pay on time and in full when the due date arrives.
  5. Delay gratification statements such as, “I feel good if I have it,” “If I don’t buy it now, I might regret it later.” Analyze the situation before delving into an important decision.

4. Plan to save for the future

Taking control of your cash flowRight after you assess your monthly income, save a fixed portion regardless of the amount and put it in a savings account. If you can devise a way to do it automatically, then do so. Go to your bank and inquire about auto-debit features or a particular type of savings deposit which automatically places a portion of your money to a higher-income savings account or investment. It will relieve you of the unnecessary stress of having to go to the bank each month so that you could withdraw and deposit to a high-interest savings account.

5. Don’t lose sight of your credit standing

Make it a habit to keep tabs on your credit score. The better the rating you have, the better chance that creditors and lenders will be friendly to you when it comes to approving your loan application or renewing your current one. The credit bureau monitors this and shares your credit information with other credit institutions, or used by prospective employers, insurance firms, utility firms, cable, and internet service providers.

It is possible to find success in a shared enterprise, but you have to be extra careful with how you manage your business’ finances. Do not get overexcited with additional investments that might blow up your capital. Focus on your goal, and that is to keep on improving your enterprise.

Is There Any Substance in PR Research?

For those working within the industry, PR research is a well-known method of generating content when there is no ‘news’ to work with. However, outside of this space, it’s relatively unheard of.

The concept of using a psychologist within such a project has been discussed a fair few times in the office of late, and questions about how independent such input would be have come up more than once.

PR Research should prioritize substanceDr. Petra Boynton – a sex and relationship specialist – is also well known for questioning whether it is fair or even ethical to lend her name to a report that she’s had nothing to do with the creation of:

I’m constantly being approached to do PR research and offered silly money to put my name to findings I’ve not designed or analyzed, or quotes written for me by a PR company. I refuse.

However, it isn’t just PR-generated reports that come under fire. This week, changes have been proposed for how public money is awarded to university research. In future, funding for researchers could be assessed in part on the impact their work has had on social, economic and cultural terms.

Some are willing to stand up for such academic projects, as they see real value as an accidental outcome from topics that are perceived to be superficial (which day of the year you might sneeze the most for instance). However, there are far more that still see this kind of research as detrimental to the field, as Simon Kendrick points out:

There are no doubt some good intentions burrowed beneath the marketing effort, and some people may genuinely gain benefit from the tips on diet and ergonomics. But when the advice is packaged up in such a moronic fashion, it completely destroys any appeal that the campaign may have instilled. At some point, either the press must resist publishing these “stories” or the sheer ridiculousness of their claims must be exposed. But in the meantime, there appears to be no respite.

So how do you use research – the cornerstone of many a PR campaign – in a way that presents valid findings and cuts down on ‘churnalism’ (the business of a press release simply getting a copy & pasted for reproduction)?

It seems clear that involving your ‘third party’ psychologist from the inception of the project makes a huge difference. As does being honest about whether they’ve been paid or not (as is almost always the case), should someone ask?

If the results don’t suit the original aims, there’s not much that be done to change them without affecting the credibility of the research. And don’t forget that geography, sample size, and demographics (i.e., the specifics) make a huge difference to how relevant the report is to different contacts.

However, with the pressure to fill news pages with reduced resources still very apparent, there’s also a responsibility on the side of the media to pay attention to the science behind such research, or at least ask for a closer look into the way the report has been collated. This would go a long way to ensuring that the creators of such research are working harder on their methodology and aren’t simply creating projects with a headline in mind but no real substance.

Your First Steps to Going Gluten Free

When you decide to go gluten free, the first place to start is your very own kitchen. It’s the center of your food world. Right? Your kitchen will always remain the safest zone for your gluten-free diet. It’s here where you can try and test new recipes and condemn anything that contains gluten if ever you are tempted.

So, to create this safety zone, you will need to set up your kitchen from the start, and for some, this could become a difficult task without a helping hand. So, here are a few useful tips to start your gluten-free journey on the highway of your kitchen.

Gluten, as you all know is a commonly found food protein in grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. But it’s not only limited to only these grains, but other available grains also contain a high amount of gluten.

The Danger of Cross Contamination in a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

It’s necessary that you understand why you need a fresh beginning to become gluten-free successfully because gluten is present on the majority of food in small ingredients in the form of secondary by-products. It can be present in pasta, crumbs, and sauces. That also means everything from toasters, utensils, pans to counters in the kitchen may have gluten remains in it or on it.

Gluten allergy might be fatal to some peopleWhen the residue touches your food, gluten cross-contact occurs. Various studies have confirmed that anything above even the smallest amount of flour, bread can cause allergies and inflammation.

Many people also experience symptoms with the little amount of gluten exposure as well. Therefore, you should not risk re-using pans, grills, condiments, and appliances. Such avoidance will help you go a very long way in protecting yourself from gluten contamination. Here are the first few steps to go gluten-free, to begin with.

Reorganize and Clean Out Your Pantry

Start with your pantry cleaning for your gluten-free transition to get started. Sit down and pull out every food containing gluten, review them and make a list to form your first ever gluten-free shopping list. Dedicate a special section in your pantry that is completely gluten-free for everyone in the family who is going gluten-free.

For many, cleaning out their kitchen can end up being an emotional process, and you might end up mourning over foods you once enjoyed. But, see the positive effect this transition of going gluten-free will have on your health.

Pay Attention To Labels To Avoid Using Gluten

If you have been planning to go gluten-free seriously, you need to start paying attention to the labels. Read the list of ingredients and get familiar with the names of gluten based sources such as malt flavor, unspecified thickeners, starches, stabilizers or malt vinegar.

Once you master the basics of reading the gluten-free labels, please stick to the brands that specifically highlight that they are gluten free because many manufacturers don’t necessarily label their foods as gluten-free. Don’t worry about limited availability because all the supermarkets are filled with gluten-free products of almost everything including gluten-free pizza, bread, ice cream, soup, candy, and even beer.

To expand your newly found diet and to figure out what you need to look for in the labels. The terms that will always include gluten are Triticum, flour, Hordeum, Malt, Pasta, and Spelt.

You can also consider getting gluten-free mobile apps that will help you guide on processed products, restaurants, and ingredients. There are several apps where you can check the list of gluten-free items while you are shopping in the supermarket. Certain subscription-based mobile apps also help you scan UPC code to find out if your product contains gluten or not.

Get Your Own Food While Socializing

Once you decide to follow the gluten-free lifestyle, it’s most likely that people around you will cook for you. If possible, don’t let others cook for you unless you trust them to avoid cross-contamination of gluten ingredients. It’s better to take your food during social events because the gluten-free diet follows a steep curve and cannot be mastered by friends overnight, no matter how hard they try and how much they want to do something for you.

When you bring your food, it helps you focus on company more and not constantly worry about feeling sick after eating random food. You and your friends will be more relaxed and assured. Holidays can get tricky and to cope up during those celebrations, make sure you have something that’s delicious and gluten-free. Trest yourself with delicious gluten-free recipes and enjoy tasty food just like everyone.

Start With Fresh Meats & Produce

Lots of people think that dropping wheat and bread will help them go gluten-free, but it’s much more complicated. But the first step to go gluten-free is to remove processed food from your diet and switch to fresh food items like vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh poultry, and meat. You can also get fresh gluten-free prepared meals delivered to your home in case you struggle to cook at home. There are plenty of personal chef services offering gluten-free or vegan meals that deliver to your doorstep at your convenience.

To follow the fresh food diet, shop from the stores with fresh meat and fresh produce department. Try to include simple foods in your diet which includes herbs, pepper, and salt for seasoning.  The safest grain would be plan rice that is gluten-free certified.

Gluten-free lifestyle can very challenging, but if you take every step in consideration to your overall health, it will give you a positive effect in long-term. You are guaranteed to make it efficient by taking each step in order with little extra attention.

To ensure that you can maintain this lifestyle, don’t try to deprive your taste buds some good food. There are plenty of alternatives available for gluten-free cakes, bread, cookies and more. The idea is first to clean everything and then start fresh by adding every type of food that you like with a little difference, that it’s going to be “gluten-Free” this time.

Quick Chat: 5 Minutes With Tanya Scott

In our recent chat with Tanya Scott, Director of the Business Analytics degree program at Wake Tech Community College, she discusses how data science is changing and how Wake Tech and Data 4 Decisions fit into that evolving landscape.

Q: How is the field of data and analytics developing and where do you see it going in the next few years?

A: Even just five years ago, the skills needed to work in analytics were at the Masters and Ph.D. levels and not attainable for most. Now, with the development of user-friendly software and analytics tools, the turnaround time for training is much quicker and more accessible. As a result, a lot more people are now “data literate.”

At the same time, there’s also a broader need across industries—from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, and manufacturing to health care—to have some analytics built into their strategies and teams. Raleigh has been witness to that exponential growth in demand for talented people who are interested in analytics.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Wake Tech’s Business Analytics program?

A: Sure! We offer the first and only Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Analytics in the country. Our program is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed for our graduates to work in entry-level business intelligence and analytics professions. The program is fully accredited and offers courses in on-campus, online and hybrid formats, and right now, we have more than 200 students enrolled.

Q: How do you attract students to data science and get them interested in making data science their profession?

A: The program is really all about applied math rather than abstract concepts, using math every day and making it accessible when it comes to business decisions. Students can start playing with data immediately—they see learning analytics skills is attainable.

In the past, this type of skill was reserved for graduate-level programs, but now there’s a growing need for entry-level and mid-level analytics, and there are immediate jobs available upon graduation, locally and elsewhere. Anyone with an attitude and a desire to learn about business analytics is welcome in our program.

Q: How did you get involved with Data4Decisions and why is it a good fit?

A: When we saw the announcement for the conference, we immediately decided that we needed to be involved in some capacity. At Wake Tech, we have such a strong commitment to the industry, and we’re always striving to stay on the cutting edge to help develop the workforce needed to meet industry demands. Data4Decisions helps us get the word out about our program and also helps connect the industry with our students, who are the workforce of tomorrow.

Q: What makes Raleigh stand out in the field of business analytics?

A: Raleigh is really fertile ground with important industry partners headquartered here—SAS, IBM, Quintiles and several others. With the combination of our local business demand and a strong talent pool coming out of our higher education institutions, we have the ideal opportunity to work together to drive innovation. Every day we read in the paper that there’s a new data center opening up—it’s an exciting time. I’ve been in Raleigh since 2008, and I’m very happy living here.

Social Effects of Online Messaging

Humans are sociable creatures by nature; the majority of people that I have observed in society are always engaging each other’s lives whether it is with a good or bad temperament. As time goes by, people become more and more dependent on technology, especially the internet, to keep in touch and up to date. The creation of e-mail has altered the way all people communicate. This couldn’t be more evident today than with Facebook which has conveniently moved its way to the lives of nearly everyone who has access to the internet. Facebook may be the most popular communication source on the web, but if someone doesn’t use it, then odds are they’re on another site filling their social void with online chatting.

There are many boons to be had once someone starts browsing a website which allows them to talk to anyone from anywhere on the globe. However, one major use for such a site is the ability for someone to find a loved one who can’t be reached through any other means. A friend of mine is living proof of this. He found his younger sister on Facebook after many years of separation. Without the use of Facebook, it might have taken years for him to have a chance of getting in touch with her. Alongside the blessing of finding a loved one, the internet gives millions the ability to meet people and make new friends.

The world at your fingertips with social media messagingThe lifestyle that many leads now would cease to exist without the use of the internet to communicate. Multitudes of people take online college courses to receive an education. Millions of people communicate with their employers and their educators through e-mail to interchange necessary information in order to progress functionally during the day. If not for yahoo’s website, I would have the responsibility of turning in several assignments by hand. Furthermore, for people who just need a way to bide their boredom, features on social media sites such as instant messaging do well in serving as a pass time. I always hear people talking about how much time they spent talking to someone on instant messenger about something random.

There are two sides to every story; online communication doesn’t fail to wander into this cliche. Contrary to all I have mentioned prior to now; the internet has also proven time and time again its aptitude to pull individuals of native and adolescent nature into unfavorable situations. Many children have gone on to online-chat websites and have been led on by strangers to believe in false character posing as a friend.

Best Practices for Network Security in Small and Medium-Size Businesses

As the IT professional in a small or medium-size business (SMB), your company depends on you to protect its network and other vital information assets from harm. In a small or medium-sized business, you may be the only technical support, or you may be the leader of a small group of technicians. Regardless, there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

One of the most critical aspects of your position is to protect your company’s vital information. One of the most fundamental concepts in protecting an information system is the security triad: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, often referred to as CIA. Confidentiality applies to ensuring that only persons properly authorized have access to private and proprietary information. Integrity means to protect data from unauthorized alteration or damage. Availability means that information is accessible when required.

Each leg of the triad is critical to protecting your company’s most vital asset its information.

Network security should be enhanced for small businessesBefore planning a strategy to protect your assets, you must determine the information assets to protect. When creating your risk assessment, you should include the benefit derived from the information, the estimated time to recreate the information is lost, the negative impact of data loss or corruption, any regulatory requirements, and the estimated value of the information to external parties. In your role as the systems administrator, you will not be able to determine the answers to most of these questions; therefore, you should work with the business managers responsible for the information (information owners) to complete the risk assessment.

Once the risk assessments are complete, you can plan the appropriate level of security, redundancy, and recoverability for nearly any situation. This is where you start to work with the information security triad.

Each information system in your company may include data that is either proprietary or private. This information can range from the social security numbers in your Human Resources system to the bank account numbers and balances in the accounting database. This information may cover company-owned patents, internal business processes or financial projections. Regardless, if it is proprietary or private, you are responsible for ensuring that unauthorized users do not gain access.

The Roadmap on Guided Tours

A guided tour, as the name speaks for itself, is a trip that is facilitated by a licensed guide. The guided trip can go from as short as a few hours which works well for when you’re staying in New York City for a short period, to several weeks (or months!) for those making a journey of an entire country or more often, several countries.

There are different kinds of guided tours and here are the most popular ones:

NYC can be overwhelming for a first time traveler1. Self-guided audio tour

For those on the budget and for those who want more flexibility, an audio tour is your best choice since it allows you to control your trip. You can start, pause, and stop the visit whenever you want. You must be pretty independent to get the most of this kind of tour since you have to find your way around the area. It is easy when you have to use an audio guide in a museum or a site labeled with numbers on each point of interest. When you are going around, say, the Times Square, it can be more challenging and you might be missing out on the essential snippets that you can learn should you have chosen a tour guide.

2. Local tour guide

A local tour guide is usually hired for a specific area because of licensing issues. It is common for tour guides to only have permits for a particular city or town. It might be illegal for them to do paid touring outside of their locality. A knowledgeable tour of New York City, for example,  can help you understand the area you’re visiting, and he/she can even bring you to off-the-beaten places such as restaurants, sunrise and sunset spots, and shops that are popular among locals. It is usually the case that locals rarely go to where tourists go, and vice-versa.

The only challenge is it can be challenging to choose the best local guide among the hundreds available in the area. Your best bet would be to check online ratings and reviews or to hire guides that your family or friends recommend and have had the chance to try their services. There is nothing worse than sticking with a local guide who has no idea of his/her culture and history. Avoid guides who just seem to copy and paste their version of local history from Wikipedia.

3. Group tour guide

group tour on a bus with entertainmentA guided tour is usually associated with a group tour, where apparent tourists shuffle their way along busy streets to follow a person holding a microphone and a bright-colored flag. This sight always puts off many people, which may be the reason why many travelers always try to steer away from guided group tours. But it is unfair to think of all group tours to be this bad and off-putting. If going with a big group such as for your school, company or family, then a group guided tour is the way to go since it is easier to organize everyone. It is a challenge to book for restaurants, hotels, and sightseeing without a tour leader, so going for a group tour is not always a bad choice.

These are the three main categories of guided tours and all others, such as experience tours, are but off-shoots of any of these. A guided tour is always a good choice if you want to get the most of your travel experience, but it is crucial also to get a knowledgeable and passionate guide. Online reviews and friends’ and families’ recommendations can help you out, so don’t just book a guide on the fly.

Free Business Classes and Workshops in New York City

It’s hard to start up a small business, and business classes and workshops are usually costly. Major cities like New York City tend to be far from an exception to this rule, with business classes and workshops easily costing several hundred to thousands, of dollars. Thankfully, some places offer free business classes and seminars.

This includes Brooklyn Public Library’s Business Library, which offers a great variety of classes and workshops that are business related. Another option is The Small Business Development Center, which has a total of over 15 locations in New York, with two of these places in New York City.

Brooklyn Public Library’s Business Library in New York City

Small Business Workshop at the Brooklyn Public LibraryBrooklyn Public Library’s Business Library offers a large variety of workshops and classes that are directed towards investors, small business owners, entrepreneurs, students and anyone that is interested in doing business in Brooklyn. Their successful students have hired the best SEO agency in NYC led by Jason Berkowitz to further enhance their online prospects.  Some of their programs include a business fair in May and June and a “Made in Brooklyn” breakfast series that offers information on specific industries in Brooklyn (everything from music and film to ethnic restaurants) and includes a free continental breakfast.

They also host the SCORE program, which offers small business start-ups personalized mentoring from some of the highly established, and retired, local business owners.

Brooklyn Public Library’s Business Library
280 Cadman Plaza West
(718) 623-7000

The Small Business Development Center in New York City

Baruch College offers free business workshopsThe Small Business Development Center has two locations in New York City. Both of which help to offer those that are interested in starting their own business. These centers (which also have more than 15 other locations in the state of New York) provide with every step of the process. They even assist those that have already started their business.

This center offers help with everything from business plan development and financial planning for those planning to start a business. They also help with marketing strategies and business management for those that have already begun their own business. None of their classes and workshops cost any money, and their one on one counseling services are also completely free of charge.

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Pace University
163 William Street, Room 328
(212) 618-6655

Small Business Development Center
Baruch College
55 Lexington Avenue
(646) 312-4790

Recognizing the Importance of Corporate Data

There are three critical success factors that each company needs to identify before moving forward with the issue of data quality:

  • Commitment by senior management to the quality of corporate data
  • Definition of data quality
  • Quality assurance of data

maintaining data qualitySenior management commitment to maintaining the quality of corporate data can be achieved by instituting a data administration department that oversees data management standards, policies, procedures, and guidelines.

Defining Data Quality

Data quality is defined as being data that is complete, timely, accurate, valid, and consistent. The definition of data quality must describe the degree of quality required for each element loaded into the data warehouse.

assuring consistency in dataThe quality assurance of data refers to the verification of the accuracy and correction of the data, if necessary, and this may involve cleansing of existing data. Since no company can rectify all of its unclean data, procedures have to be put in place to ensure data quality at the source.

This task can only be achieved by modifying business processes and designing data quality into the system. In identifying every data item and its usefulness to the last users of this data, data quality requirements can be established. Increasing the quality of data as an after-the-fact task is five to ten times more costly than capturing it correctly at the source.

If companies want to use data warehouse for competitive advantage and reap its benefits, data quality is critical. Only when data quality is recognized as a corporate asset by every member of the organization will the benefits of data warehousing and CRM initiatives be realized.

Unreliable and inaccurate information in the data warehouse causes numerous problems. First and foremost, the confidence of the users in the validity and reliability of this technology will be severely impaired. Furthermore, if the data is used for strategic decision making, unreliable data affects the entire organization and will affect senior management’s view of the data warehousing project.

Erroneous Data

An excellent example of the damage that can be caused by inaccurate data occurred in the early 1980s when the banks had incorrect risk exposure data on Texas-based businesses. When the oil market slumped those banks that had many Texas accounts encountered significant losses. In other cases, manufacturing firms scaled down their operations and took actions to eliminate excess inventory. Because they had inaccurate market data, they had overestimated the inventory and sold off critical business equipment.

Erroneous data should be captured and corrected of before it enters the warehouse. Capture and correction are handled programmatically in the process of transforming data from one system to the data warehouse. An example might be a field that was in the lower case that needs to be stored in upper case. A final means of handling errors is to replace erroneous data with a default value. If for example, the date February 29 of a non-leap year has defaulted to February 28, there is no loss in data integrity.

Consistency of Data

In analyzing the characteristics of data required for data warehousing and data mining applications, the quality of the data is of extreme importance in a data storage project. The challenge for data managers is to ensure the consistency of data entering the system. In some organizations, data is stored in so-called ‘flat’ files and a variety of relational databases. Also, different systems designed for various functions contain the same terms but with different meanings.

reliability of dataIf care is not taken to clean up this terminology during data warehouse construction, this results in misleading management information. The logical consequence of this requirement is that management has to agree on the data definitions for elements in the warehouse. Those who use the data in the short term and the long term must have input into the process and know what the data means.