October 27, 2022

Audits / Accountability

Ok, we're going into the way-back time machine. It's 2003. My team (Database Marketing) was supported by our Credit Division. The customer database was built by and maintained by the Credit Division.

I know, I know, you are about to yell at me ... "SILOS". Have at it.

Our Credit Division decided in 2001 that they were going to create an omnichannel view of the customer by integrating all data sources into a master database. That's a big job at a ten billion dollar brand. You cannot get too frustrated with the process.

But in 2003 the database wasn't being updated properly. Heck, you'd come into work on Monday morning and the database wasn't available. It's hard to execute "Database Marketing" without a database.

My team was promised 95% database availability by 9:00am on Monday morning. My team would grumble that the database wasn't available. The Credit Division would tell anybody we grumbled to that the database "was" available. Yeah, they essentially lied.

My team couldn't understand how the Credit Division could get away with lying and with providing poor service?? Yes, my team was justifiably angry.

So we created our own audit process. It wasn't our job, of course, but the Credit Division was failing us. We created a series of audits to demonstrate that the transactions added to the database were accurate. Most importantly, we created our own count of how often the database was available at 9:00am on Monday morning.

Every Monday at 1:00pm we had a meeting with the Credit Division. We started every meeting by sharing our dashboard. There were two key metrics at the top of the dashboard. We printed them in bold, and passed the dashboard out to everybody.

  • 9:00am Database Availability:  5 weeks out of 11, 45%.
  • Weekly Database Accuracy:  9 weeks out of 11, 82%.
  • Promised Database Availability:  95%.
It took about a quarter, 13 weeks, before our Credit Division got sick and tired of seeing the metrics printed in bold and handed out every week.

It took about 26 weeks before our problems were solved.

Turns out nobody, and I mean nobody, likes to be shamed. It's worse when you shame people after they lie.

Audit people, and hold them accountable. Please.

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