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ISO 8000: New International Standard for Data Quality

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ISO 8000 - A New International Standard for Data Quality

by Peter Benson

In this guest post by Peter Benson, ISO 8000 Project Leader, we learn about the international data quality standard ISO 8000 and how it benefits data consumers and suppliers globally.


ISO 8000 - Current Progress

With the first part of ISO 8000 published in late 2008, and three new parts scheduled for publication this year, work on this new and exciting standard is progressing well.

Anyone who knows the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) process understands that reaching international consensus on a new standard can be both frustrating and challenging. It takes a good editor and in Dr. Gerard Radack (Concurrent Technologies Corporation), we are lucky to have one of the very best.

While Gerry shoulders the bulk of the work load, the workgroup chair, Dr. Timothy King (LSI Group) and the chair of the ISO Subcommittee, Mr. Howard Mason (BAE Systems) play critical roles in progressing the work through the ballot cycles.

International Domain Expertise

ISO is made up of thousands of international domain experts funded by commercial or government organizations. These experts form committees and subcommittees with defined work programs and are subject to strict editorial guidelines, procedures and timelines managed by the ISO central secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Membership in ISO is vested in the National Standards Organization with one vote per country. Experts are volunteers appointed by the national standards bodies.

The International Standards for Data Quality are being developed by ISO Technical Committee 184 Subcommittee 4 (ISO TC 184/SC 4). The committee’s mission is the development of standards for the exchange of complex data in an application neutral form.

The SC 4 standards are used extensively in the exchange of design, engineering, manufacturing and management data for vehicles, aircraft, ships, manufacturing plants, buildings and all associated equipment and component parts. The driving force behind the SC 4 standards is data portability and long-term data preservation in an environment where the life cycle of software applications used to capture and manage data is but a fraction of the life cycle of the data itself.

Structure of ISO 8000

ISO standards are typically made up of parts, which are standards in their own right. A part may have its own editor and its own project leader depending on the nature of the project and may undergo revisions independently of other parts. The first part of ISO 8000 is part 110 and it was published in 2008, hence the name ISO 8000-110:2008.

As it was first published as a Technical Specification (TS), the correct reference is ISO/TS 8000-110:2008. The full name is "Data quality -- Part 110: Master data: Exchange of characteristic data: Syntax, semantic encoding, and conformance to data specification”, the abstract reads as follows: "ISO/TS 8000-110:2008 specifies general, syntax, semantic encoding and data specification requirements for master data messages between organizations and systems. The focus of ISO/TS 8000-110:2008 is on requirements that can be checked by computer.” Expected to be published shortly, is part 100 (introduction), part 120 (provenance), part 130 (accuracy) and part 140 (completeness).

While the 100 series of parts deals with Master Data other series of parts will deal with Transactional Data, Referenced Data and Engineering Data. Parts 1 through part 99 are reserved for general data quality issues which include Data Governance, although this may also be covered in more detail in the other series

Compliance is Key

It is important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of standards is to define compliance clauses in a way that users can claim compliance to differentiate their goods or services from those that are not compliant. In many countries, compliance with an international standard becomes a legal requirement, this is why the reference to the standard must be specific, and the standard names are carefully managed by ISO.

A feature of ISO standards is that self-certification of compliance must always be an option and there is no requirement to use third party certification. Third party certification can, however, provide a very useful additional level of confidence.

Role of ECCMA

As the project leader for the new standard, ECCMA (Electronic Commerce Code Management Association) has developed a series of compliance certificates for individuals, organizations and their software applications and data services.

ECCMA’s compliance certification, under ISO 8000-110:2008, is designed to be straightforward and within the grasp of companies regardless of their size.

The process tests the understanding of the role of open technical dictionaries in semantic encoding, as well as, the specification of data requirements.

On a practical level, ECCMA provides applicants for Master Data Quality Manager (MDQM™) certification with access to a website where they can create a compliant data requirement specification, generate request for master data and respond to requests for master data all in ISO 8000-110:2008 compliant XML formats.

The site creates the required XML exchanges and these are submitted to an examiner as proof of completion of the process. ECCMA issues certificates and maintains a register of certified individuals, organizations, software applications and software services; more information can be found at: www.eccma.org.

Peter Benson can be reached at peter.benson(at)eccma.org

Useful ISO 8000 resources: