I am trying to prove a business case to demonstrate the quantifiable business benefits of implementing data standards to support our heterogeneous ERP environment.

Any helpful thoughts and advice would be appreciated. Specifically, I am looking for some figures to support a process flow diagram i.e., what is the % likelihood of an error during transcription of data? I am trying to show that if we create the data once, according to agreed upon standards, then to electronically transmit that information, it is less likely to introduce an error into the process.


Sid Adelman’s Answer: The benefits of data standards are hard to quantify and are usually only realized in the long term. This is going to be a tough sell unless you have enlightened management who expect to be around for a few more years and are willing to make the investment.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: I think this effort will be truly difficult if not impossible. Even after you have found the %, will it really convince anybody in power to follow a specific standard? Don't get me wrong, I completely support and am a big advocate for following data standards, but I have always felt that it is more effective to get people to follow along by example than by a directive.

Scott Howard’s Answer: I'm not aware of any work performed and published to support your case. However, allow me to share an effective example that most can relate to. Consider NASA's recent track record for their Mars probes. What happened about two years ago? NASA admitted that the probe crashed into the side of Mars. Why? Well a credit to NASA's honesty, they admitted that one engineering team used metric standards and another used imperial standards. No consideration for these differences was accounted for when calculating things like weights and balances, fuel load and trajectories. It's as if your financial DW joined U.S. dollars to the Euro and then to the Turkish Lira without considering the implications. Now out comes the Oliver Stone in me as I suspect the same thing happened to NASA's second probe. After all, wasn't it already in route when the original standardization error was detected?

I usually cite this very example when advocating standardizing and reconciling source input to the DW. I usually also state that your business too can crash into Mars if you don't standardize your source input, after which I'm also usually thrown out of such meetings. ;-)

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