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Managing the Data Warehouse Lifestyle

Robert Bolds
Practice Director, Knowledge Management Solutions
Computer Associates International, Inc.


Recent discussions with a mid-size manufacturing organization were telling in this arena. and havoc on a resource plan. Yet. We all know and have heard the numbers for successful application development efforts. Identifying Change in the Data Warehouse Lifecycle Change in the data warehouse lifecycle can occur in many areas. realizes return on investment and reduces total cost of ownership by streamlining costs and increasing revenue. With a negative employment rate for IT. Attrition is also another force of change every company must face. better benefits. The impacts of an acquisition or merger are many. Organizational Change For the vast majority of enterprises in today’s economy. After a failed ERP implementation. though logically we can categorize change in three constructs: organizational. business objectives and strategic goals will require a fair amount of planning and project management acumen to manage this type of change. and more importantly. -2- . it can mean a total re-scoping of the warehouse development. Most who are reading this article are probably undergoing either the beginning or ending stages of an acquisition. data sources. the entire IT staff of 15 resources quit for jobs acquired in less than one week. technology. acquisition is a normal strategy for growth. resources and outcome of any warehouse initiative. cost. schedule. an effective warehouse that helps drive competitiveness. Implementing a continuous process improvement strategy to facilitate a smooth development effort. How to manage that change in light of technology that improves in dog years can be a daunting task. and process. The integration of new resources.Managing the Data Warehousing Lifecycle The Only Constant is Change Change is a constant and often frustrating agent in managing a data warehouse. platforms. This is especially acute for the information technologists. promises of training in bleeding–edge technologies. the key to providing continuous improvement in the warehouse can be accomplished if one understands how to recognize and pro-actively manage the business challenges. expected delay on releases. And a dismal 31% of all projects that are started are canceled before delivering a single line of code to end users. the resource planning for a warehouse initiative must be dynamic and anticipate the expected attrition in a market where high salaries. The changes that occur can adversely affect the quality. technological. The majority of applications (53%) are completed but are delivered late and over budget— an average of 89% over budget. The Standish Group reports that only 16% of significant application development projects are completed on time and within budget. For a warehouse initiative. and has a milder impact on warehouse initiatives but must nonetheless be managed as part of the total IT landscape. but more importantly. and increased bonus structures are a lure for even the most loyal employee. Company divestiture is also another source of change for any enterprise. if there really is an ending stage.

” said Jeff Papows. Thus. Although recent movements to standardize models (OIM) and languages (XML and UML) are ongoing. Optimizing the Warehouse Lifecycle Managing change in the warehouse lifecycle is primarily reactive in nature. eBusiness is a reality. Knowledge management will become mainstream.” Predictive management as realized through improving data mining technology will continue to help enterprises proactively manage change and drive business before market conditions actually occur. the more intelligent the enterprise is in managing and evaluating the effectiveness of its business processes. data type. nimbler dot-com rivals. “The lifecycle of any data warehouse system will test the will of many a manager in its implementation. Each of these phases in the lifecycle brings with it its own challenges. each phase requires unique skills and the correct mix of tools. it is apparent that no matter how a company stores information or does business. “Organizations of all sizes need such knowledge-sharing technology if they are to compete with faster. But in addition to skills and tools. This is due to the driving improvements in the technological infrastructures that support these realities. and the lack of protocols for cooperation between tools. improving business-to-business communications. For an enterprise. “model integration used to be virtually impossible due to the wide range of standard and proprietary software engineering methodologies employed. or organization. As Johannes Ernst of Integrated Systems was quoted. Unlimited bandwidth will give new power and speed to eBusiness. The more effective a warehouse is. everyone can gain secure access in an electronic marketplace. so optimizing the warehouse shouldn’t be so difficult that balance can never be realized.Technological Change It’s almost embarrassing to even make this statement: technology improves rapidly… in dog years. and recommending aggressive marketing plans with high probabilities of success will all help build effective CRM models. then deployment in the organization. This is where economies of scale will be meaningless and the sharing of information will occur regardless of platform. outgoing president and CEO of IBM’s Lotus.” according to Thomas Flanagan and Elias Safdie of the Cordis Group. Great strides are taking place in a short period of time to make integrated open tools a reality. “Perpetual learning and knowledge management will be the key to organizational effectiveness. knowledge-sharing technologies are fast becoming a reality. warehousing is mainstream and data mining is becoming mainstream. and finally in the day to day operational aspects of running a data warehouse. customer buying patterns. it then becomes imperative to build a library of best practices in its processes and methodologies. CRM is a reality. Predicting click patterns. Portal technology will make universal access to data a reality. one must possess the wisdom to drive value in the warehouse itself. This means that repository based tools and integrated models are vital in creating a continuous process improvement model for warehouse development and delivery. This can best be understood if the proper techniques that utilize the proper skills and tools are practiced.” This statement was made before the introduction of Open Information Model (OIM) and the Extended Markup Language (XML). Process Change Changes in process are a natural evolution of every enterprise. -3- .

this can extend to business intelligence from automating standard reporting and introducing a level preliminary level of ad hoc queries for detailed and summary reports. Improving Efficiency in the Data Warehouse Lifecycle After defining utility. This can ensure that test cases are closely aligned with the requirements elicited during the planning and design phases. Introducing best practices libraries allows an organization to capture the development framework to baseline methods. An example of this would be to utilize an experienced ETL developer to begin working on the next phase of the warehouse design process while the less experienced. This is another important means of improving efficiency in the warehouse lifecycle as well. The traditional techniques of project management. Risk Management is vital to ensuring efficiency within the warehouse. Efficiency can also help the warehouse realize compliance with standards as well as delivering improved operation of the warehouse and improved customer satisfaction. This can be an effective means of crosstraining as well. Extending time also adds cost to the total effort and makes this perhaps the least attractive means of defining utility. Risk should be identified. Sandboxing is the technique of using inexperienced resources in mentoring relationships with more experienced resources to reduce the work and duration of the experienced resource. categorized and tracked. An example of concurrency can be to define the warehouse testing strategy concurrent to the warehouse design process. Configuration management is more than just versioning. Another means of improving efficiency is to perform proper risk management throughout the entire warehouse lifecycle. such as adding appropriate resources to reduce warehouse tasks to promote cross training and sandboxing.Defining Utility in the Lifecycle There are many steps that can be taken to first define utility in the warehouse lifecycle. and techniques. and knowledge sharing. Defining concurrent tasks to improve operational efficiency can be easily accomplished by performing unrelated tasks concurrently with other tasks. including post-implementation management. It is a common practice of many project managers to build time into the project plan itself. which can serve as a source for work breakdown structures. are commonplace techniques. Understanding the probability of occurrence of a given risk and measuring the severity of outcome can help an organization to better manage risk. deliverable templates. This can further be extended to tailor future business initiatives to meet specific requirements. analyzed. verified. It is the planning and management in a formal manner of changes in scope and functionality of the warehouse itself. utility can then be extended to improve the efficiency of the warehouse itself. Another means of defining utility is to extend timelines to manage a warehouse project. prioritized. The results of the utility building tasks are primarily to introduce basic utility and compliance with business requirements to support mandatory business intelligence. In warehousing. yet properly mentored resource works on the mappings from source to target once the target model is complete. -4- . allowing the more experienced resource to perform more complex tasks. For the project manager. project reporting. project tracking. This compendium of knowledge will add to the process library. perhaps the best means of improving the efficiency of the development lifecycle is to introduce concurrency of development. activities.

An example of this is to utilize enterprise management tools to remotely deploy warehouse access packages. improving customer service and support.Discovering Effectiveness in the Data Warehouse Lifecycle Perhaps the most overstated and least implemented practice in warehousing is the implementation of enterprise metadata. must understand the business processes that drive the value in the warehouse. is becoming increasingly important in driving a customer relationship model. Metadata is changing from application and warehouse systems to total enterprise knowledge management systems. that serves as the standard interface for business intelligence. as well as the development team. The use of third party information. and confidence in the knowledge shared across an organization. such as demographical information. as well as operational access. data consistency. the key to managing the data warehouse lifecycle lies in defining utility. the speed of delivery of the warehouse itself. Another example is the introduction of an Internet portal as a primary means of warehouse access. graphical images. Metadata can offer more than just a directory of knowledge for knowledge workers and IT warehouse developers.g. This is vital to eBusiness ventures where e-commerce can mean increased revenue with little total cost of ownership to an enterprise. It ensures reuse. -5- . or email) are just the beginning of information that exists within an enterprise. This means that the warehouse manager. and most importantly for IT. Conclusion In conclusion. improving efficiency. Discovering effectiveness in the warehouse will provide value for the enterprise by reducing time to revenue. documents. The inclusion of structured and unstructured information (e. s time to market. and discovering effectiveness in the data warehouse lifecycle. A final means of discovering effectiveness is to introduce technology accelerators that speed up the time to implementation and therefore. Continuous process improvement means continuous value in the warehouse. delivery of new products or services.