Success with a data warehouse project is a challenge due to the size, complexity and diverse requirements. The quality-driven success strategies outlined here address and resolve this challenge.
Determine data warehouse project objectives:
- Deliver significant benefits on time.
- Minimize defect, fault, rework and avoid disaster.
- Measure and manage performance, and improve benefits.
Find DW quality drivers:
- Prevent defect or fault, and save after-the-fact costly rework.
- Identify and mitigate risk before the fact.
- Address or eliminate issues, and avoid costly after-the-fact resolution.
- Reduce the need to change and use change control.
Seek quality-driven DW benefits:
- Improve customer service and increase customer satisfaction.
- Boost marketing and selling capabilities and increase competitive advantage.
- Reduce cost, effort and resource utilization.
- Streamline processes and develop more efficient management tools.
- Make jobs easier, less stressful and raise employee productivity.
Establish DW project success strategies:
- Help sponsors be informed, accepting of problems, and willing to devote time to the project and make quick decisions.
- Prepare to articulate and execute deliverables in very complicated, multi-faceted environments involving diverse skills.
- Map project objectives to the enterprise mission and get buy-in from stakeholders.
- Complete due-diligence in all areas: scoping, estimating, budgeting, scheduling, staffing, skills-adequacy, dirty data, DW design, architecture, infrastructure and project governance.
Set DW project management success strategies:
- Adhere to a discipline project management approach.
- Plan with participation, inspire ownership and execute in pieces.
- Time-box activities, assign ownership, track delivery and recognize good performance.
- Run parallel activity tracks while coordinating teams and deliverables.
- Deep-dive in all areas of the project and ensure quality delivery.
Ensure success through active DW project manager roles:
- Plan, execute and monitor budget.
- Get access to sponsors, stakeholders, team members, users, customers and service providers.
- Communicate the truth in a timely manner and be persuasive.
- Take a key role in scoping, estimating, staffing, assessing skills-adequacy, cleansing dirty data and establishing the DW design, architecture and infrastructure.
- Establish strong and direct control procedures and track performance.
- Review work in progress daily, adjust tasks and deliverables, assign new tasks, run team interfaces and organize stakeholder review sessions.
- Do cost-benefit analysis of data cleansing and impact analysis on requested changes.
- Deep-dive in all areas of the project and change directions to succeed when facing roadblocks.
Capitalize on strengths of the DW project manager he/she must:
- Earn support from stakeholders, respects technologists and inspires quality delivery.
- Be skilled in “quality” and “process,” “defect/fault” reduction, risk mitigation and issue resolution. Avoids operational disasters.
- Understand business value of data, analysis, reporting and impact on decision-making.
- Understand data warehouse architecture and customer service.
- Understand data technically, and knows when data is correct, accurate, consistent, complete, integrated and follows business rules.
- Understands the cost of data cleansing and metadata. (Note: 70% to 80% of the effort may be in data cleansing and transforming from source to target.)
- Envision from 50 feet up, be experienced to work 100 feet wide, and be skilled to deep-dive 10 feet in the trenches with technologists.
- Deep-dive in all areas of the project: requirements, data, source, target, data modeling, DW design, architecture, database, data, ETL (extract, transform and load), testing, end-user training, implementation, infrastructure support, continuity of business to performance metrics and customer satisfaction surveys.
Review the DW benefits:
1. Increase number of customers:
- Recruit and retain more customers enabled by information available on relationships, accounts, activities, channel utilization and demographics.
- Identify marketing opportunities for products and services by analyzing existing and potential customers.
- Enroll and retain more customers by giving them access to information on accounts, products and services.
2. Increase revenue:
- Cross-sell to customers by relationships, accounts, activities, channel utilization, demographics, revenue and fees.
- Market to potential customers by measuring revenue, profit, channels available and customer demographics.
- Collect on loans and generate more loans enabled by information on customers.
3. Increase productivity:
- Increase productivity by enabling analysts and users to create their own reports.
- Save time producing reports for government or other agencies.
- Save 50% to 90% of analyst’s time in gathering data, now available from one source.
4. Control cost:
- Understand and control service and customer costs by account type, channel and activities.
- Control inventory and negotiate with suppliers and vendors on services, outsourcing and capital expenditures.
- Detect fraud by searching internally and externally and analyzing better HR information.
5. Intangible benefits:
- Store accepted, consistent data definitions and make them available to users.
- Produce consistent reports and answers to queries.
- Set up effective reporting procedures with more data and better quality of information.
- Boost decision-making capabilities, both operational and strategic.
- Reduce reluctance to make decisions with timely information available on demand.
- Improve morale as employees are more comfortable with their decisions, take greater pride in their work and have the tools to do a better job.
- Provide better service from the customer’s perspective using enhanced information.
- Analyze alternative business strategies by running what-if scenarios.
- Save time and effort with one easy-to-access data source.
Rafiq Rasul, PhD, PMP, is an independent consultant.
This story has been reprinted with permission from Information Management.
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