The biggest challenge in writing this column has been deciding what to discuss first. Rather than following a life cycle approach, I plan to focus immediately on preparing for and developing dimensional models. Later, I will discuss other topics that are just as critical for your success including data warehouse architectures, gathering business requirements and achieving enterprise integration.

Before you start, you need to decide what you are going to model. A common approach is to ask the business users to compile a list of data elements that they need. This may be compiled in group brainstorming or joint application development (JAD) sessions, or by having each user submit his/her own list of data elements. The project team diligently compiles this list and presents it back to the business community for approval. Unfortunately, I have found this to be one of the least successful methods to determine what is to be included in your dimensional model.

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