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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