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How can we meet all end-user requests for the enterprise data warehouse?

  • Sid Adelman, Clay Rehm, Evan Levy
  • July 10 2006, 1:00am EDT

Q: Since my company put in place a real enterprise data warehouse (EDW), the data warehouse (DW) team has been asking for new implementation we can't afford to do, due to limited development capacity. The problem has moved to an "internal relations" task: how to meet all the end-user requests? Is there a "best practice" organizational model we could follow? Do we need to promote a public relations area?

Sid Adelman's Answer:

It sounds like your limitation is not on budget but on the people resources needed for a more broad-based implementation of multiple projects. I'd start off with a requirement that all new projects be cost justified. This will help eliminate many "nice to haves" and help establish a means to prioritize your projects. The next step is to assemble a steering committee that should be composed primarily of business management, the level of management that would be requesting these new projects. The committee should also have an IT member responsible for the DW who would keep the steering committee from trying to assign too much simultaneous work. The steering committee would prioritize the projects based on the cost justification but also on how well each project maps to the strategic goals of the organization. The steering committee making the decisions takes the pressure off the DW team and your public relations issue is solved.

Evan Levy's Answer:

I'm a big fan of establishing a user requirements team that is focused and aligned to the user organizations (as opposed to the IT organization). These individuals would communicate on a regular basis with the business users to not only understand their business needs for data (as opposed to specific data needs) but also broadcast and communicate EDW successes. In this manner the DW team is able to share their success with others and ensure that if any opportunities exist to help the business users, there's ample opportunity to learn about them.

Clay Rehm's Answer:

In your current environment, you will need your business partners on your DW team to understand the problem and promote the problem to the rest of the organization. They must also communicate company wide that the current DW team will not be able to meet all of the end-user requests. The second part is after the information has been disseminated, to then determine who within your organization will go to bat for you to obtain additional resources. The point is, the users who need the DW must be your salespeople.

Tom Haughey's Answer:

This is always a tough call. So let's step back a bit and put some preliminary concepts in place. Additions to a DW can be of several different types: 1. Growth projects, which offer new data subjects areas, business capabilities, and deliverables; 2. Leverage projects, which support new business users from the common repository of data, such as a roll-out to a new group of users; and 3. Technology projects, which implement new technologies and infrastructure. I assume you are talking primarily about Growth projects, which offer new business functionality, but any of these would qualify.

There is a point in your question that I do not understand. You say the "DW team has been asking for new implementations we can't afford to do." Is it really the DW team that is asking for these? I would have thought the business was asking the DW team to do the new implementations, but there is not sufficient DW IT budget. That's how I will approach it for the rest of this response.

Consider the following question: If you did not have an EDW and wanted to put these capabilities in place, how would your organization pay for them? In most cases, the answer is that the requesting business unit would pay for them. In most cases, without an EDW, the business unit would do it as their own independent data mart. What I recommend is getting the business unit to pay for it but pay for implementing it on the EDW. When I was in charge of a DW, I always asked the business to spend their money but do so on our stuff (meaning on the EDW platform), and not on a separate platform.

However, if you are going to do this, even as I describe, the EDW will require some increase in staff. Some new ETL (extract, transform and load) and database staff will be required to enable the EDW to implement the basic capability.

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