2011-08-15

Steps to successful adoption of a new data warehouse

What is taking so long to get the data warehouse ready?

In a new deployment of a data warehouse there are many infrastructure components that have to be put in place. Modeling tools, ETL Servers, ETL processes, BI Servers,  and Bi interfaces and finally reports and dashboards. Not to mention sessions for user interviews, business process review and metadata capture.

I say server(s) because there should be dev/test and prod platforms for each of these.

Figure 3-4: how data models deliver benefitImage via WikipediaA recent article at Information-management.com talks about data modeling taking too much time if done correctly.

Add all of these things together and you have a significant period of time to wait before seeing a benefit to a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence project.

Here are some suggestions to reassure the stakeholders early on during the project lifecycle.



Give them data early and often.


     Put together a small and simple data model for the first pass. Load the small star schema with a subset of the data relevant to a group of business users, then create some reports or give some power users access to create their own reports.

    This shows the concept of continuity. A Continuity test in electronics is the checking of an electrical circuit to see if current flows, or that it is a complete circuit.

Show the data quality issues


  "A problem well stated is a problem half solved" Without seeing data quality issues, the people that enter data into the system of record can not fix it.


Get and give feedback often


   As soon as people start using the "prototype", you will get feedback. Use this as an opportunity to explain why the process should take longer. It also identifies gaps in understanding among the team. Once people have a hands-on view of the presentation layer they will try a number of things.

They will use it to answer questions they already have answers to. Thus validating the transformation processes.

They will also start to try to answer questions they may not have asked before. This is the best opportunity for learning more about how the data is being used.

These steps lay the foundation for making data work for you and your business.






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2011-08-01

3 Great Reasons to Build a Data Warehouse

Why should you build a Data Warehouse?

What problems do a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence platform solve?

There are strong debates about the methods chosen for building a data warehouse, or choosing a business
intelligence tool.Data Warehouse OverviewImage via Wikipedia


Here are three great reasons for building a data warehouse.

Make more money


The initial cost of building a data warehouse can appear to be large. However, what is the cost in time for the people that are analyzing the data without a data warehouse. Ultimately each department, analyst or business unit is going through a similar process of getting data, putting it in a usable format, and storing it for reporting purposes(ETL). After going through this process they have to create reports, prepare presentations and perform analysis. The immediate time savings benefit comes to these folks who do not have to worry about finding the data once the data warehouse platform is built.

The following two points also allow you to make more money.


Make better decisions


In order to better know your customers, you must first better understand what they want from you.Once the people that spend most of their time analyzing the data do not have to spend so much time finding the data and focus their time on reviewing the data and making recommendations, the speed of decision making will increase. As better decisions are made, more decisions can be made faster. This increases agility, improves response time to the customer or environment, and intensifies decision making processes.

Once a decision making platform is built you can better see which type of customer is purchasing what type of product. This allows the marketing department to advertise to those types of customers. The merchandising department can ensure products are available when they are wanted. Purchasing can better anticipate getting raw materials so products are available. Inventory can best be managed when you are able to anticipate orders, shortages, and re-orders.

Make lasting impressions.



Customer service is improved when you better understand your customer. When you can recommend to your customers other products that they may like you become a partner to your customer. Amazon does an amazing job of this. Their recommendation engine is closely tied to their historical data, and pattern matching of which products are similar. Likewise, you may want to tell a customer that they may not want something that they want to purchase because a better solution is available. This makes a lasting impression on them that you are the one to help them in their decision making process.

Make data work


Building a data warehouse platform is one of the best ways to make data work for you, rather than you have to work for your data.

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