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I am trying to prove a business case to demonstrate the quantifiable business benefits of implementing data standards to support our heterogeneous ERP environment.

    Ask The Experts published in DMReview.com
October 3, 2002
  By Sid Adelman and Clay Rehm and Scott Howard


I am trying to prove a business case to demonstrate the quantifiable business benefits of implementing data standards to support our heterogeneous ERP environment.

Any helpful thoughts and advice would be appreciated. Specifically, I am looking for some figures to support a process flow diagram i.e., what is the % likelihood of an error during transcription of data? I am trying to show that if we create the data once, according to agreed upon standards, then to electronically transmit that information, it is less likely to introduce an error into the process.


Sid Adelman's Answer: The benefits of data standards are hard to quantify and are usually only realized in the long term. This is going to be a tough sell unless you have enlightened management who expect to be around for a few more years and are willing to make the investment.

Clay Rehm's Answer: I think this effort will be truly difficult if not impossible. Even after you have found the %, will it really convince anybody in power to follow a specific standard? Don't get me wrong, I completely support and am a big advocate for following data standards, but I have always felt that it is more effective to get people to follow along by example than by a directive.

Scott Howard's Answer: I'm not aware of any work performed and published to support your case. However, allow me to share an effective example that most can relate to. Consider NASA's recent track record for their Mars probes. What happened about two years ago? NASA admitted that the probe crashed into the side of Mars. Why? Well a credit to NASA's honesty, they admitted that one engineering team used metric standards and another used imperial standards. No consideration for these differences was accounted for when calculating things like weights and balances, fuel load and trajectories. It's as if your financial DW joined U.S. dollars to the Euro and then to the Turkish Lira without considering the implications. Now out comes the Oliver Stone in me as I suspect the same thing happened to NASA's second probe. After all, wasn't it already in route when the original standardization error was detected?

I usually cite this very example when advocating standardizing and reconciling source input to the DW. I usually also state that your business too can crash into Mars if you don't standardize your source input, after which I'm also usually thrown out of such meetings. ;-)


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Strategic Intelligence.

Sid Adelman is a principal in Sid Adelman & Associates, an organization specializing in planning and implementing data warehouses and in establishing effective data architectures and strategies. He jointly developed a methodology, MapXpert for Data Warehouse, that provides a master plan for implementing a data warehouse. Adelman is a regular speaker at The Data Warehouse Institute and IBM's DB2 and Data Warehouse Conference. He chairs the "Ask the Experts" column on DMReview.com and is a founding member of the Business Intelligence Alliance. Adelman is a frequent contributor to journals that focus on the data warehouse. He coauthored Data Warehouse Project Management with Larissa Moss and Impossible Data Warehouse Situations: Solutions from the Experts. He can be reached at (818) 783-9634 or sidadelman@aol.com. Visit his Web site at www.sidadelman.com.

Clay Rehm, CCP, PMP, is president of Rehm Technology (www.rehmtech.com), a consulting firm specializing in data integration solutions. Rehm provides hands-on expertise in project management, assessments, methodologies, data modeling, database design, meta data and systems analysis, design and development. He has worked in multiple platforms and his experience spans operational and data warehouse environments. Rehm is a technical book editor and is a coauthor of the book Impossible Data Warehouse Situations with Solutions from the Experts. In addition, he is a Certified Computing Professional (CCP), a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science from Carroll College and is currently working on his Masters degree in Software Engineering. He can be reached at clay.rehm@rehmtech.com.

Scott Howard has been with IBM for more than 22 years. Howard?s experience includes staff and management assignments ranging from microapplications programming to mainframe and systems programming. He is an internationally recognized expert on business intelligence, data warehousing, DRDA, distributed databases and multivendor database integration, and an author and contributor to many publications. Scott is an IBM certified Advanced Technical Expert for DB2 UDB, an IBM Certified Business Intelligence Specialist and Certified Technical Trainer.

Howard is currently with Learning Services, IBM Global Services and is its business intelligence and data integration curricula worldwide leader. He has worked with IBM?s Silicon Valley, Toronto, Rochester and Austin development labs for the past twelve years, developing client/server database and data warehousing courses.

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