Last month we began a three-part examination of the data mart development process with a discussion of project planing. This month, we'll turn our attention to the prototyping phase of the project. Prototyping is a critical part of every data mart project. Using an iterative analysis, design and build approach, the prototyping process delivers a working data mart loaded with source data. Using real legacy data helps users verify that the prototype meets their requirements. This iterative cycle begins by creating a formal definition of requirements.

Data mart system requirements are defined by balancing user needs against the availability and quality of source data. Gather user requirements by interviewing managers and business analysts in the assigned subject area. If your project is on a tight schedule, don't try to interview users in a one-on-one fashion. Conduct facilitated requirements workshops. They are faster and more effective.

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