May 27, 2022 | Data Quality

The Essential Guide to Data Quality for Background Screening Companies

Quality is such an overused term in the background screening industry. Who defines what quality is? How do you actually prove quality? Isn’t quality the minimum expectation any customer should have when it comes to employment background checks? Isn’t a CRA’s expectation that people-data should be both high quality and high value?

Is your data supplier committed to investing in their Cost of Quality (COQ) to enhance the reliability of your background screening reports? 

At InformData we take quality (that word again) seriously so that our customers experience value on a whole new level. For us, quality isn’t an adjective. It’s the result of a process that permeates our business from the inside, out. In fact, while quality culture encompasses the entire organization, we have a dedicated department that focuses exclusively on quality initiatives (I did it again). We consider COQ to be a fundamental investment made on behalf of our team, our customers, and every other stakeholder. (Spoiler alert: the next few paragraphs are for quality aficionados who want to know how we measure the quality that provides the best customer value. If you want to skip to a discussion of quality and value for mere mortals, click here)

How do we measure COQ? By focusing on providing an accurate product and tracking defects to use during our analysis for continuous, proactive changes to technology, training, etc. Consider how many steps must be completed flawlessly to deliver a criminal background check. We must receive the order properly, dispatch to our research teams, consolidate results in an easy-to-read format, etc. Every step in the process has the potential for defect (hint: defect does not translate to error).  

The metric we use is defects per million opportunities (DPMO). Here’s how we define defect:

defect is a flaw or discrepancy in a process or object. There can be multiple flaws or defects in an object. For example, an invoice may have a defect or error in the address line, invoiced amount, discount, or delivery date. Each one is an opportunity to make a mistake on the invoice that you send to your customer. Each defect can cause a disruption and upset your customer.

The defect to opportunity ratio is calculated using the Sigma score, specifically Six Sigma. Six Sigma methodology is a set of techniques and tools that when used correctly and invested in as a COQ provides an objective measure on the quality of your business operations. Traditionally, a quality level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (that’s a tiny, 0.00034%!) defines excellence in most industries. 

But that’s not enough at InformData where our goal is to meet and exceed quality standards used to measure the most operationally efficient companies in the world.

Precision at its finest

At InformData we have Leaders who are Six Sigma Black Belts (that’s a real-world distinction for people who dedicate their careers to this COQ stuff and are the best of the best) and understand that serious quality leads to real value for our customers. We employ a disciplined, statistics-based data-driven approach driving a continuous improvement methodology for minimizing DPMO in our product, processes and service. The result is value for our customers at a whole new level. 

Allow us to brag

Often, when two companies merge like we did when we combined SJV Data Solutions and Wholesale Screening Solutions, customers experience a bit of a rocky road in the immediate aftermath. We were determined that would not be our customers’ experience, especially when it came to quality. Here’s a report card on how our merged operations are doing.

Since our organizations merged, we have actually improved our pre-merger DPMO (quality has increased!) score. As of April 2022, we are at 99.9874% accuracy rate with a 5.16064 Sigma (126 DPMO) for all court research and criminal record data. We have compiled the data and are happy to show that our 15-month average is now at 99.98606% accuracy rate with a 5.048954 Sigma. The DPMO is less than 193 defects per million orders, well on its way toward excellence.  

Check out the chart below. 

Quality for Dummies (Like Me)

Perhaps you aren’t a Six Sigma Blackbelt that automatically recognizes how impressive these numbers really are. All that DPMO stuff went right over my head, so I asked our six sigma black belts for a translation – in English, please. Here’s what they said.

Achieving a 5+ Sigma is not an easy accomplishment. Some well-known brands that we all associate with quality and that still strive to reach a 6.0 Sigma score include Amazon, 3M, Deere & Company, Motorola and even the United States Army.

So, the next time you hear a data supplier say they are dedicated to quality, all you have to do is ask for their DPMO, Sigma scores or accuracy rate. If they don’t have them, they might talk the talk without really walking the walk. If they don’t share them, well . . .

In the meantime, because we are committed to continuous improvement, and to providing the best value to our customers, we’ll continue strive to hit the perfect Six. We’re always happy to tell you how we’re doing so you know what to expect when you purchase data from InformData… and if you are a budding quality black belt yourself, you might even share the quality scores your data achieves with your customers so they know why they can trust the screening results your provide to make business-critical people decisions. 


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