One of the most difficult parts of the data warehousing process is deciding where to begin. Determining how this technology will provide the biggest payback with the least pain to the organization is the most challenging activity of the entire data warehousing process. To be successful, you must first determine what strengths and weaknesses exist within your business from an organizational and business process maturity perspective before recommending a course of action. The best way to develop this understanding is to undertake a quick business assessment which will help you determine where your best efforts should be directed. The results of such an undertaking may, for example, indicate if an operational reporting system would be more appropriate for your business user than a data warehouse. Environmental and cultural barriers can cause considerable delays or problems with the acceptance and deployment of data warehousing technology. An organizational and business maturity assessment will mitigate this risk and ensure that you start off in the right direction.

In assessing your business, look for a number of key organizational characteristics or features. These indicators provide a gauge of how effectively and rapidly your business users will be able to embrace the full benefits of this technology. The organizational dynamics assessment indicates where you are from a change-management perspective. For example, if little knowledge sharing is recognized or promoted across each line of business, then your data quality management process may have to be limited to rudimentary data clean up and verification rather than true data reengineering and consolidation across the business. An organizational assessment involves reviewing the leadership philosophy, level of collaboration and communication that exist within the business today.

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