Ten Techniques to Guarantee a Successful DW/BI Solution

The ingredients to a successful Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence deployment include good project management, effective communication and using DW/BI tools to their full potential. Denise Rogers presents her top 10 techniques to guarantee a successful DW/BI deployment.

The ingredients to a successful
Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence deployment include good project management,
effective communication and using DW/BI tools to their full potential. A Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence
application is being built, NOT an OLTP application. So use the ETL solution
and its features in support of the solution, the Business Intelligence software to its full
potential, the DBMS and its Data Warehouse functionality. Other essential ingredients
include getting the resources trained or experienced hires or both that know
how to exploit the features and functionality that each of the components of
the solution has to offer.

The mantra should be to design a
solution based on the business requirements and the strategic direction, not to
fit a DW/BI solution into an OLTP strategy for deployment that has been around
for years.

The functionality of the tools should be
completely understood, this is the responsibility of the team, such that all
available components of the tools are alternatives to be explored as part of
the design. This ensures a comprehensive understanding of the features and
functions available to design a robust solution. So without further delay, I
would like to introduce the top 10 ways to guarantee a successful DW/BI

Number 10 – Manage the DW/BI
project…there are too many risks not to

A DW/BI project is huge undertaking for
any organization. On this, we must agree. So why would any organization not
want to have a formal project management approach to ensure success? The answer
should be obvious. A formal process for administering the project ensures that
communication, risks, scope, cost, time and quality are managed successfully
and effectively, are required and essential.

Number 9 – Sponsorship…don’t leave
home without it

There’s quite a bit of momentum for the
DW/BI incentive. That’s great! However, without the approval and sponsorship
from senior management, the project goes nowhere really fast! Executive
sponsorship ensures that the project moves forward in terms that it enables the
alignment of resources, approved budgets and opens the lines of communications.
This is gold for the DW/BI project.

Number 8 – Documentation is the gift
that keeps on giving

Documentation IS the gift that keeps on
giving. Why? There are so many moving parts and so many components to the DW/BI
solution. Having living and breathing documented artifacts, either using
standardized documentation practices or through standards created for the
project enables the DW/BI solution to become a scalable, supportable and
maintainable set of applications with minimal impact on resolving issues.

Number 7 – Deploying a DW/BI solution is
hard enough, don’t make it harder

Building a DW/BI solution is one of the
most ambitious undertakings for any organization. There is no real need to take
on unnecessary risks. One such risk is using buggy, uncertified software code
to build parts of the solution. The beta version may be at a reduced cost at
the onset but how much will it cost the project when it breaks during the
production deployment? And it will break! Staying a release or two back is not
a bad idea. These versions have most of the bugs worked out so there’s minimal
risk. A DW/BI solution should be the leading edge of software not the bleeding

Number 6 – Metadata is more important
than you think

Metadata management and data governance
is an integral part of any DW/BI solution; it’s more important than you think!
Metadata not only defines and describes the data elements in the data mart, it
provides a lineage or audit trail back to its source of origin. Metadata
defines the purpose of the data, why it was originally created and its business
owner. This is valuable information when the data in a report is being questioned
during an audit and requires validation. It also reduces the time required to
enhance a BI application specific to the creation of new reports.

Number 5 – A spreadsheet does not a UI

When there has been a lot of effort
invested in cleansing, transforming and loading data into a DW/BI environment
and there is a high demand to report on the data, give the business a reporting
solution that really speaks to their requirements. A spreadsheet is good for
reporting in certain situations but if there is an enterprise BI solution with
the features and functionality that the business community is asking for, it is
the job of the IT team to create an application that actually uses all that the
BI solution is capable of! Remember the BI reporting solution is not just a
spreadsheet; the evaluation was exhaustive, all features and functionality were
tested, why only use 10% of the functionality to deploy the DW/BI solution.

Number 4 – Upgrade the
infrastructure…it makes DW/BI solution work…really

A DW/BI application needs to have an
infrastructure that supports massive amounts of data to be moved, transformed,
cleansed, loaded, stored and reported on. To ensure success of a DW/BI
initiative, it is essential that the project plan includes tasks that assess
and upgrade the infrastructure. A DW/BI requires lots of storage and lots of
memory; make sure the platform is ready to host the solution.

Number 3 – ETL can do a lot of things…and
it should

An ETL solution does so much more than
extract and load data. A complete ETL solution includes data profiling, standardization,
cleansing and transforming. So design an ETL solution that uses its features;
make the ETL software work to 100% of its design not 10%…..ETL software
is NOT just a data mover!

Number 2 – Put the Database to work

Oracle, UDB and SQL Server (to name the
big 3) have come a long way in the DW/BI space. Get all the components working
to support a DW/BI solution not just part of the solution; all of it! The DBMS
has quite a few DW/BI features that offer star schemas with aggregate
functions, data cubes with all the features that support drill through. The
data mart should not be in 3rd normal form with views that supports
complex joins.

Number 1 – Get the right resources in
place to do the job

Some of the DW/BI biggest successes and
failures are often linked to how the project has been resourced. For
organizations that are embarking on their first DW/BI deployment, it is
extremely important that teams are led by people that are seasoned veterans in
DW/BI. These senior architects and developers will influence the organization
to align its thinking related to DW/BI solution. This includes training the
team to use the DW/BI software and using experienced hires to set the strategic
direction and implement policies and procedures that ensure success of the
DW/BI project.


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Denise Rogers

Denise Rogers
Denise Rogers
enise is a data architect with several years experience in the deployment of data architectures at major healthcare insurance companies and state government. She is a certified PMP that has designed and deployed a number of data solutions ranging from transactional to decision support within various architectural and project management frameworks. She has also spearheaded a number of efforts related to database environment assessments, capacity planning and performance tuning. In the past, Denise has held several user group positions including participation in International DB2 User Group (IDUG) and internal architectural groups. She has presented solutions to division heads at the within state government as well as conducted a number of company related training and information sharing sessions on database performance tuning techniques, best practices, etc . She has also mentored and coached project team members at various levels of expertise including university recruits, business users and senior IT staff. Denise graduated from Greater Hartford Community College Cum Laude in 1983 with an Associate’s degree in Management Information Systems.

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