From an identity management perspective, if Active Directory is being used for access and as the repository-of-record for user data for applications, the inconsistencies mentioned above can greatly affect how applications function. Incomplete, unacceptable and just plain wrong information may cause an application using that data to malfunction, or worse, grant invalid access rights (whether denying authorized users or allowing unauthorized users).
The best practices are simple: Treat Active Directory as an enterprise repository. That means architect and plan what fields will be managed by end users, and put in place the controls needed for consistent/valid data (whether the control is an Active Directory control, a process or even training for the end users).
Having users maintain their own information can be great for administrative cost savings, but if left uncontrolled, can cause more expenditures than what it saves.
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