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Meta Data and Data Administration:
Data Administration Staffing, Part 2

  Column published in DM Review Magazine
June 1999 Issue
 
  By David Marco

This article is the concluding portion of a two-part series on staffing the data administration team. The first installment examined the roles of the project champion, data administrator, repository architect and data modeler. This segment will examine the roles of the business analyst, data acquisition developer (back end), data delivery developer (front end), middleware developer and infrastructure developer. Depending on the size of the implementation, some of these roles can be filled by the same resource. This usually occurs with the middleware developer and infrastructure developer roles. Other roles will require multiple resources. This is common with the data acquisition developer and data delivery developer roles.

The business analyst's chief responsibility is to meet with the business and technical users to define the reporting requirements of the meta data repository. In order to accomplish this task, the business analyst will need to have experience leading JAD (joint application development) and workgroup sessions. During these sessions it's very important for the business analyst to properly manage the expectations of the repository's end users. More then one project has failed because of unrealistically high end-user expectations for the system.

The business analyst must understand how to take the requirements that come from these JAD and workgroup sessions and apply them to design technical solutions. This person also needs to have excellent communication skills to work with the business/technical end users and the development team for the meta data repository.

The data acquisition developer for the back end of the meta data repository is charged with the task of extracting the meta data from its sources, programmatically integrating it and loading it into the meta data repository. This role is primarily a programming one. If a meta data integration tool is being used to build the repository, this person needs to become intimately familiar with how to use the tool to load the repository's tables. Typically the tables of the repository are loaded into a relational database (e.g., Oracle, Informix, SQL Server). As a result, the back-end developer must come from a programming and SQL background. It is critical that this person have a strong concern for quality and that they work well with the repository architect.

The data delivery developer for the front end of the meta data repository is responsible for extracting the meta data from the meta data repository and presenting it to the technical and business users. It is quite common for a meta data access tool to be used to present the meta data to its users. In these situations, the data delivery developer must understand how to use the tool and have a solid grasp of the tool's strengths and weaknesses. In "better" meta data implementations, the access tool for the data warehouse/data marts will be the same tool used to access the meta data repository. This is important because the reports that have the greatest value incorporate both meta data and data warehouse/data mart data.

The front-end developer must come from a programming and SQL background as typically the meta data will be pulled from a relational database. In addition, this person needs to understand how to create user-friendly reports that present the meta data and data warehouse/data mart data in a clear and logical manner. This person must also have solid communications skills to work well with the business analyst and repository's end users.

Middleware developer is a commonly overlooked role, typically staffed from a centralized IT (information technology) team. In today's development environment, we are consistently sourcing meta data from different hardware platforms (e.g., mainframe, PC, UNIX). Quite often this chore can be much more difficult than initially expected, especially when speed is of the essence (such as when the meta data is being sent to feed an end-user report). Often the solution for linking these diverse platforms comes in the form of middleware. This person needs to be able to work well with the infrastructure developer and the repository architect.

The infrastructure developer, like the middleware developer is typically staffed from a centralized IT team. It is critical that this person be proactive and work with the middleware developer and the repository architect at the onset of the repository implementation to make sure the hardware, software and middleware can support the repository's architecture. All to often, a meta data repository project is negatively impacted because the end-users' PCs do not support the access tools being used or the platform that the meta data is sourced from.

Of the eight roles I've discussed, there are five qualities that are critical to all of them: excellent organizational skills, team player, strong motivation, quick study and concern for quality.

It is important for all of the data administrators, managers and architects to take the time to invest in their people. Spend time teaching them the knowledge that you have. Send them to conferences and provide them with articles that you've found valuable. People are the greatest asset that you have. Invest in them wisely, treat them honestly and with respect and the paybacks will always be great.

...............................................................................

For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
DW Administration, Mgmt., Performance.

David Marco is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise architecture, data warehousing and business intelligence and is the world's foremost authority on meta data. He is the author of Universal Meta Data Models (Wiley, 2004) and Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository: A Full Life-Cycle Guide (Wiley, 2000). Marco has taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University, and in 2004 he was selected to the prestigious Crain's Chicago Business "Top 40 Under 40."  He is the founder and president of Enterprise Warehousing Solutions, Inc., a GSA schedule and Chicago-headquartered strategic partner and systems integrator dedicated to providing companies and large government agencies with best-in-class business intelligence solutions using data warehousing and meta data repository technologies. He may be reached at (866) EWS-1100 or via e-mail at DMarco@EWSolutions.com.

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