PLATFORMS: Iterations is delivered in published workbook form, with several on-line components that run on Windows PCs.
BACKGROUND: In 1995 the LEGO Group began a data warehousing initiative. The first steps were to define the data warehouse architecture and select tools. Then a pilot project was completed to demonstrate the benefits of data warehousing. The first data warehouse implementation was rolled out to end users in October 1997, and now the LEGO Group is starting the next implementation project.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Iterations enabled us to deliver our first data warehouse project, Consumer Sales Information, within a five-month time frame. Most team members involved with the first implementation project had no previous data warehousing experience.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Iterations provides a detailed process road map for developing data warehouses in concise steps. It defines the activities specific to the data warehouse development process, guiding users from the startup phase to analysis and design, through to construction, testing and implementation, then returning to evaluation and management of the subsequent iteration.
STRENGTHS: Iterations allowed us to focus on managing and delivering a quality data warehouse within the committed time frame. It eliminated the need to invent a data warehouse development process or to rely on outside consulting services. Iterations added significant value by defining the roles of each team member, establishing a framework for rapid development and providing templates to assist in the actual development process. It helped us meet the technical and management challenges posed by the data warehouse project.
WEAKNESSES: The technical track of Iterations needs to include a discussion of configuration management, software versioning issues and a more detailed definition of the technical architect's role. The entry of duplicate information across templates needs to be reduced, and a recommended set of deliverables should be created based on the characteristics of the project.
SELECTION CRITERIA: One of the learning points from our pilot project was that a methodology is necessary. During the pilot project the team felt uncertain about what to do, what not to do and in which order activities should be performed. Because data warehouse development differs from traditional development projects, traditional methodologies are not a good fit. Iterations was an easy choice after these learning experiences. The major advantages of Iterations are: it is data warehouse specific; it is product independent (the use of Prism software is not required), which means that it focuses on the process involved; and Prism includes five days of on-site training with an experienced consultant.
DELIVERABLES: Iterations is delivered with several components, including a published workbook with a project plan and diskettes with tools and forms. It defines four major process tracks (project, user, data, technical) describing the parallel steps required for analysis, design, construction and testing of each warehouse iteration. These synchronized tracks include over thirty modules, comprised of more than one hundred activities and multiple tasks within each activity.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The five day on-site training for the data warehouse project team was valuable. Prism, together with the project team, performed an on-site review of our use of Iterations after the first warehouse implementation.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation of Iterations is very structured. The explanations are detailed and the binders are big, which in the beginning can seem overwhelming. The on-line predefined forms are absolutely necessary, and the on-site training is vital or you risk not using Iterations to its fullest potential.
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