4.1 Metadata system(s)
By dividing the main tasks as described in 2.1, CBS designed and developed a software that could produce (generate) programs needed, based on the on-line input of parameters. In line with that, CBS also designed a software solution called Planning that represented a rudimentary metadata system 20 years ago. The statistician would enter basic data on the survey (owner, periodicity, basic descriptions etc.) while programmers enter other data (record definitions, processing order of particular steps etc.). On the basis of all these data some programs are automatically produced and some programs still need to be done tailor-made. Once the necessary software had been produced, the programs are run either by the statistician(s) or by the IT expert in charge. For large surveys, steps 4 - 6 are carried out by a special data editing unit.
The major part of these processes are handled by the IBM mainframe, using a very old DBMS (CA Universe), PL/I programs, IBM Job Control and CICS transaction monitor. Since the client/server technology was introduced several surveys were shifted to the new technology using MS SQL Server and Visual Basic 6.0 development tools. However, all of this was handled in the tailor-made fashion.
The endeavour to develop and implement a similar solution to the client/server environment has been ongoing for several years already. The data entry module has been developed in MS Visual Basic 6.0 together with the data transfer module. Some of the tasks of the planning module have been covered by the comprehensive metadata project while other tasks have been handled through the project designated to establish a public macro database In addition, a statistical business register has been developed and is in the final testing phase.
It is very relieving to realize that a comprehensive solution is almost ready now, that is, a metadata-driven, more or less automatic statistical information system, built upon a comprehensive metadata management system.
4.2 Costs and Benefits
Although the development of the new ISIS and the CROMETA in particular required a significant amount of resources, mainly from the IT sector, it is expected that positive effects on statistical production will by far outnumber the resource usage.
CROMETA will add functionality as well as quality to the new system through at least following aspects:
- well-described and uniformed metadata, i.e. all information on statistical surveys and statistics in one place
- using same classifications, registers and address lists (nowadays, they are different for each survey and not maintained centrally)
- speed up all the processes in the statistical survey life cycle and bring down the time needed to establish a new survey
- better control over statistical surveys in general and data processing in particular
Thereby CBS will provide a better image within the public sector in Croatia and international statistical society as statistics will be more accessible.
It should be noted that a significant extra effort will be required from statisticians to get used to the new methodology of survey maintenance and especially to provide all metadata necessary. It is expected that some statisticians will regard the new system simply as extra work, while some will, hopefully, gladly meet the challenges and benefit from that.
The profitability of the system should be regarded through direct and indirect revenues against all costs (investments in HW and SW, staff, maintenance etc.). It is rather difficult to separate the costs/benefits of the CROMETA system from the whole ISIS; therefore the costs and revenues are calculated for the ISIS in whole.
Direct revenues will consist primarily of the savings from the eventual shutdown of the mainframe, i.e. nearly 300.000€ yearly in terms of software licenses and maintenance. If the solution proves to be successful, it might also provide some revenues from international statistical exchange, since it is a usual practice among NSO's to exchange solutions for a reasonable amount of money. Also, CBS's IT staff is already engaged in consultancy to other NSO's. This will be enhanced further by the experience gained through system development. Consultancy also brings direct revenues to CBS. Indirect revenues may be gained from the lower maintenance cost of the client/server equipment against the maintenance cost of the mainframe which will be shut down eventually.
A significant benefit will be as much as 20 IT experts made available for new tasks. This number of people is heavily engaged in regular statistical production now and will be freed for other tasks and further development.
The costs are spread from equipment to the in-house staff and technical co-operation. It is expected that about 250.000€ will be spent altogether on hardware and licenses, the majority of that is already installed. The cost of IT education in the regular budget should be increased by 50% since there are more young developers to replace those who left CBS. There are no extra staff cost for the in-house development since it is done as the regular duty, but more developers should be hired or educated for the same reason as above.
The majority of investments were applied through technical support by Sida and Statistics Sweden from year 2002 to 2007. Additional help in terms of hardware purchase will be received from programs PHARE 2005 and PHARE 2006.
4.3 Implementation strategy
The new system will be introduced in a step-by-step manner. Five surveys were first selected as pilots. The statisticians in charge of these pilot surveys participated in the development teams and provided metadata to CROMETA. Upon presentations and introductions of the pilots new set of surveys will be discussed. Manuals, workshops and training will be provided. Eventually, a deadline will be set for all statisticians to enter metadata into CROMETA using the maintenance tool. The shift of surveys from 'old' to 'new' environment will depend on periodicity and urgency of particular surveys.