Forum Guide to Metadata
NFES 2009-805
July 2009

Example of metadata system cost-benefit and return-on-investment (ROI) analysis are in your schools?

Costs Benefits*
Hardware and software Purchase of the computers, networking equipment, and software needed to operate the system. Reduced IT costs Savings associated with reduced technical demands because of efficiencies resulting from a metadata system; for example, redundant data are removed, decreasing storage needs.
Installation Payment to in-house staff or outside contractors to install the system. Interoperability Savings associated with improved effectiveness and efficiency when sharing data across two or more systems.
Consulting Payment to outside contractors for technical or other expertise during system development, installation, implementation, and training. Productivity gains Savings associated with increased staff output and efficiency because of improved data access and understanding.
Initial training Costs, including participant/staff time and logistical expenses, associated with providing introductory system training. Reduced data burden Savings related to a reduction in the resources (e.g., staff time, collection demands, and reporting effort) required to collect, manage, or report data.
Ongoing training Costs, including participant/staff time and logistical expenses, associated with providing ongoing training. Reduced redundancy Savings associated with reducing unnecessary data (e.g., data that are no longer used). The "Rule of Ten" warns that one in ten data items are redundant in many large data systems.
Staffing changes Costs associated with reassigning staff duties because of system maintenance or usage requirements. Data quality Savings associated with improving the validity, reliability, utility, and timeliness of data, such as decreased auditing costs.
Support and maintenance Costs to maintain a system over time, such as upgrades, routine maintenance, and malfunctions. Improved decisionmaking Savings associated with improved decisionmaking because of improved data quality and access.
Evaluation Analysis and reporting costs associated with determining whether the system is meeting user needs and organizational expectations. System security Savings associated with decreased risks to an organization's data (e.g., improved identification of sensitive/confidential data permits focused security efforts).

* In addition to readily measurable benefits, less quantifiable benefits, sometimes called "soft" or "intangible," occur as well. Examples include improved data use to keep more students in school, improved staff morale because employees trust the organization to maintain accurate human resources files, and more effective auditing procedures like error checking to confirm calculations. While it is difficult to place a dollar value on these "soft" benefits, they are very real and could be estimated and reasonably included in a cost-benefit analysis.

Net cost = Sum of benefit savings - sum of implementation costs
ROI = Total cost savings - total tost of ownership x 100
Total cost of ownership