Portals eNewsletters Web Seminars dataWarehouse.com DM Review Magazine
DM Review | Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics
   Covering Business Intelligence, Integration & Analytics Advanced Search

View all Portals

Scheduled Events

White Paper Library
Research Papers

View Job Listings
Post a job


DM Review Home
Current Magazine Issue
Magazine Archives
Online Columnists
Ask the Experts
Industry News
Search DM Review

Buyer's Guide
Industry Events Calendar
Monthly Product Guides
Software Demo Lab
Vendor Listings

About Us
Press Releases
Advertising/Media Kit
Magazine Subscriptions
Editorial Calendar
Contact Us
Customer Service

BI Briefs:
Extreme Makeover, Data Warehouse Edition

online columnist Rick Sherman     Column published in DMReview.com
April 27, 2006
  By Rick Sherman

Our high-tech culture suffers from a not-invented-here syndrome. If we weren't the masterminds behind a project, we think it can't possibly be a good one. When faced with a new challenge, we choose the path of revolution, rather than evolution. We break out the latest tools to start building fresh, instead of evaluating and understanding the work our predecessors did.

We assume the previous project team (or management) didn't know what they were doing. We wonder what on earth they were thinking while we ramp up the budget for an extreme makeover - a total replacement of all their work.

While there's nothing wrong with having confidence in your own work, there's almost always something to learn from previous projects. As appealing as extreme makeovers are, you shouldn't rush into rebuilding a data warehouse (DW) just for the sake of building it "right" this time.

The bigger the project - and building a new DW is a big project - the more difficult it is to justify its budget. Additionally, the larger the scope, the higher the stakes and risks for getting it done. Many first-generation DW projects failed simply because their huge scope meant they took too long and cost too much.

Keep an open mind: maybe the project is in better shape than you think. There may be aspects of the current data warehousing environment that can be salvaged and leveraged. Many of the grumblings about the DW are really about a few areas that can actually be fixed. In fact, a closer look may reveal that an existing DW needs a renovation rather than a complete replacement. A renovation enables you to leverage what already exists and to concentrate on what is truly broken. In addition, a renovation allows more time to really understand what the business wants and highlight the gaps in the existing DW.

Meanwhile, a total replacement takes time to select and implement new software and hardware. Some people consider it a fun process, but a preoccupation with tools and technology can divert attention away from the really important and tough issues of data.

Indeed, the data is the tough stuff. Data consistency, integrity, quality, relevancy and currency are the keys to the success of any data warehousing initiative. Data is also the backbone to many of the highly touted enterprise initiatives, such as corporate performance management, customer data integration, master data management and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. It doesn't matter how "cool" a tool is - business users must have faith in the information it provides. Data gets stale, and unless we work on an ongoing data quality initiative - which entails talking to business users, determining what constitutes data quality and consistency, and then monitoring and improving those metrics - we are jeopardizing success. It means getting into the guts of the data, understanding data anomalies and figuring out what to do. Most of that work involves human interactions and not automated tools, although tools can help with the mechanical tasks.

With a renovation, you can allocate the right amount of time to the right issues and problems. Renovation rather than rebuilding may result in a much higher business ROI with a better match between your data warehousing environment and your business needs. In addition, renovation means you're not building a redundant DW that would move you farther from that elusive single version of the truth. Many corporations are littered with multiple overlapping DWs, data marts, operational data stores and cubes that were built from the ground up to get it right this time. The bottom line is that you're not creating a DW environment if you keep building silos - regardless of what you call them. Multiple versions of the truth is an oxymoron.

Have faith in the team that was in place before you. They probably encountered the same data challenges you have today, along with a business user community that imposes tough demands. Leverage the projects that were done in the past. Incrementally renovate what you have. Don't build more data silos. Instead, make the data warehousing environment all that it can be.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
DW Administration, Mgmt., Performance and Project Management/Tool Selection.

Rick Sherman has over 20 years of business intelligence and data warehousing experience, having worked on more than 50 implementations as a director/practice leader at a Big Five firm and while managing his own firm. He is the founder of Athena IT Solutions, a Boston-based consulting firm that provides data warehouse and business intelligence consulting, training and vendor services. Sherman is a published author of over 50 articles, an industry speaker, a DM Review World Class Solution Awards judge, a data management expert at searchdatamanagement.com, and has been quoted in CFO and Business Week. Sherman can be found blogging on performance management, data warehouse and business intelligence topics at The Data Doghouse. You can reach him at rsherman@athena-solutions.com or (617) 835-0546.

Solutions Marketplace
Provided by IndustryBrains

Data Validation Tools: FREE Trial
Protect against fraud, waste and excess marketing costs by cleaning your customer database of inaccurate, incomplete or undeliverable addresses. Add on phone check, name parsing and geo-coding as needed. FREE trial of Data Quality dev tools here.

Speed Databases 2500% - World's Fastest Storage
Faster databases support more concurrent users and handle more simultaneous transactions. Register for FREE whitepaper, Increase Application Performance With Solid State Disk. Texas Memory Systems - makers of the World's Fastest Storage

Manage Data Center from Virtually Anywhere!
Learn how SecureLinx remote IT management products can quickly and easily give you the ability to securely manage data center equipment (servers, switches, routers, telecom equipment) from anywhere, at any time... even if the network is down.

Design Databases with ER/Studio: Free Trial
ER/Studio delivers next-generation data modeling. Multiple, distinct physical models based on a single logical model give you the tools you need to manage complex database environments and critical metadata in an intuitive user interface.

Free EII Buyer's Guide
Understand EII - Trends. Tech. Apps. Calculate ROI. Download Now.

Click here to advertise in this space

E-mail This Column E-Mail This Column
Printer Friendly Version Printer-Friendly Version
Related Content Related Content
Request Reprints Request Reprints
Site Map Terms of Use Privacy Policy
SourceMedia (c) 2006 DM Review and SourceMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
SourceMedia is an Investcorp company.
Use, duplication, or sale of this service, or data contained herein, is strictly prohibited.