What is a quality identifier?

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An identifier is a pointer to a specific data set managed by the owner of the identifier, and as such it is an alias for a master data record. Identifiers are widely used by governments and commercial companies as an essential part of the identification of individuals, organisations, locations, goods, services, processes, procedures, laws, rules and regulations.

Examples of identifiers include: Vehicle registration number (license plate), Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), driver’s permit number, social security number, national identity card number, student number, employee number, passport number, tax identification number, IP address, telephone number, email address, domain name, part number, batch number, serial number, customer number, supplier number.

While identifiers are designed to be used internally within a system that belongs to an organisation, frequently identifiers are exchanged with external trading partners where they become aliases for data that is controlled and managed by the owner of the identifier. The ability to identify the owners and to resolve identifiers is an important part of master data quality verification and validation.

A quality identifier is further defined as an identifier where the owner and use restrictions are stated and that can be resolved to a data set that meets the requirements specified in ISO 8000-110.  By explicitly associating the domain and the owner of the domain with the identifier, it is possible to create a globally unique identifier, but, in order for an identifier to be useful, it must be possible to resolve the identifier to the data set.

The requirements for a quality identifier are set out in ISO 8000 part 115 section 5 as follows:

  • A quality identifier shall consist of a prefix representing the legal owner of the identifier followed by the colon character ‘:’ (UTF-8 character 3A) followed by the identifier not to exceed a total length of 254 characters.
  • The owner prefix may optionally be followed by the full stop character ‘.’ (2E) followed by the name of the identifier or sub-domain.
  • The owner prefix may include any character combination capable of being represented in UFT-8 encoding but shall not contain the full stop character ‘.’ (2E) or the colon character ‘:’ (3A)
  • The prefix shall be resolvable to:  the name of the legal owner of the quality identifier;  the electronic address where the identifier can be automatically resolved;  and any restrictions on use of the identifier.

Throughout this site the same item example is used to describe the journey taken by a technical specification (information) into an electronic technical specification (data).  At this point in the journey the identifier used by the manufacturer to identify the specific bearing is 32309M.  If you search for 32309 or 32309M in any search engine a number different alternatives are presented.  Some are Zip codes for an area of the USA, others are for competitor bearings.  Even putting the name of the manufacturer in the search box (TIMKEN in this case) does not always lead you to the Timken site.

Using the protocol described above, and searching for “TIMKEN:32309M” – the quality identifier – the search leads you straight to the Timken site ( https://cad.timken.com/item/tapered-roller-bearings-ts-tapered-single-/tapered-roller-bearings-ts-tapered-single-metric-2/item-25701 ) and the actual item information.

When the item is registered in the open ECCMA technical specification registry (eTSR) the option will also be available to download the same record as a data file from whichever resolution server is authorised to hold the data.

This article is part of a series of articles by MRO Insyte demystifying ISO 8000.