6.2 Costs Associated with Achieving Accurate Data

6.2 Costs Associated with Achieving Accurate Data

The costs of pursuing a data quality program start with the costs of creating and maintaining a central organization for data quality assurance. Developing temporary teams of people to attack specific problems and then letting them drift off to other assignments is not a useful approach to data quality. A central team is needed. There is plenty for them to do.

This team needs the usual resources to accomplish tasks. They need personal computers, software, availability of a database or two to store project information, training, and administration support. These costs can be considered general costs of performing data management, or they can be allocated to specific data quality projects.

The quality team will carve out activities such as a data quality assessment for a specific application. In pursuing this, additional costs are incurred by people outside the data quality team. They will be asked to spend time with the team, to provide access to data, and to participate in issues discussions and reviews. These costs are generally not counted toward data quality because these people are already being charged to their normal functions. If a department assigns someone full-time to be a liaison to the quality activities, it would probably be counted.

The real costs come when the quality team has conducted studies and has a list of issues with recommended remedies. The cost of implementing remedies can be very high. It can involve application renovation projects and the modification of existing applications to add checkers and monitors. Often they can be combined with other objectives to create a project that does more than just improve quality, thus mitigating some of the costs.

Another cost to consider is the cost of disruption of operational systems. Fixing data quality problems often requires changing application programs or business processes. The testing and deployment of these changes can be very disruptive to critical transaction systems. Downtime of even one hour to an important transaction system can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.