Factors and perspectives influencing accountability and the sustainability of data quality improvements in higher education.
Worldwide, organisational management is increasingly confronted by the need for data quality to make informed decisions. It has been reported that a significant percentage of turnover is lost due to bad data. The higher education sector also requires quality data in order to keep up with the pace of change in this sector. It is against this background that this study investigates the factors and perspectives influencing accountability and the sustainability of data quality improvements at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The study used a questionnaire to elicit responses from approximately 120 information system users (IS-Users) at the University on their perspectives of data quality awareness, quality practices, and the cost, accountability and sustainability of data quality improvement in order to support the implementation of the data quality initiative recently launched at UKZN. The sample was selected from a population of primary information system users. Data collection took place over two months, with a response rate of 50%. The findings and recommendations of the study revealed different opinions on various issues from the perspective of the three groups of IS-User constituents that were surveyed. The findings include significant and moderate issues relating to the lack of training, skills and leadership; work-around time problems arising from uncertainty with regard to who owns data at the Institution; and the need for stronger leadership and skills in the area of data quality. The recommendations range from investment in training, to the implementation of performance management to support current data quality activity, service level agreements to enhance data quality from third party suppliers, incentives to reward work that enhances data quality, feedback mechanisms such as metrics or a data quality monitor to report on the condition of data quality in real time and promoting data ownership in order to enhance organisational agility to reduce the work-around or run around time of IS-users.