This month we are going to preview the analysis and design process for decision support systems. As with most things, if we haven’t done this before or are unsure of the process, we fall back on methods and processes that are comfortable and familiar. Most of us grew up with transaction-based systems design, where we delve into the details of how the operational processes function with our business domain. Data warehousing turns the tables on us by posing an impossible user requirement: I’ll tell you what I need when I see it.

Based on this, most traditional methods of analysis and modeling fall short. They also fail for another reason – they take too long. We need to get a data mart project increment out in 30 days and a data warehouse increment out in less than 60. Most start-up tasks for traditional systems development life cycle processes (SDLC) take longer than this. However, the need remains to engineer the data warehouse database and decision support application within acceptable limits for systems engineering. What do we do?

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