The Veterans Benefit Administration has an innovative data warehouse that today enables wide dissemination of information over the agency's intranet, supports analysis, modeling and forecasting and provides users with summarized and detail data. But that wasn't always the case. Before the department could build its latest information management system, IT administrators first had to secure the backing of top management. To accomplish that goal, the IT sector formed a single focal point of information management – the VBA Data Management Office – and moved responsibility for data warehousing from the agency's chief information officer to the DMO. "We had to get leadership buy-in," Kim Graves, deputy director of the VBA Data Management Office told seminar attendees Tuesday at TDWI World Conference – Spring 2001 in Washington, D.C. Today, the VBA's data warehouse can provide information analysis for performance management, workload measurement, claims processing, human resources, program management, inventory management, financial information and tracking the veteran population. The warehouse also features automatic cluster detection and a multi-dimensional balanced scorecard. But to build the system, IT administrators first had to draft an implementation plan that would support customer-focused business improvement. "We had to measure performance, forecast workloads and identify resource demands," Graves says. "We had to change focus from 'technology toy' to business tool."

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