As IT professionals today, we work in the most challenging of times. Never before have we seen such pressures converging on our industry. We are all too familiar with Year 2000 remediation, long enterprise application implementations, Euro currency changes and rapidly changing business requirements, not to mention IT labor shortages. Furthermore, these issues have all arrived at a time when IT budgets are coming under greater management scrutiny. What then does all this mean for data warehousing? No doubt, now more than ever, businesses require the value that a data warehouse can offer. Yet, data warehouse projects are competing with other key initiatives and management priorities for scarce resources. We often find ourselves having to deliver more for the business with fewer resources to do it. The key question then is how do we, as data warehouse professionals, provide the most value for the business and how do we manage and minimize the cost of providing that value?

One of the most important aspects of delivering a successful data warehouse is establishing and managing user expectations.Most people involved in data warehousing probably have come across several data warehouse systems that have been perceived by corporate executives as failures, not because of inadequate performance or poor data quality, but because user expectations were far beyond what was delivered. Like any other service, data warehouse success or failure is not measured so much by what is delivered, but rather by whether what is provided meets, exceeds or falls short of expectations. The criteria for judging data warehouse success is not how it compares to other projects or how much was accomplished with limited resources, but whether the consumer, the business user, is satisfied with the results. Had user expectations been more carefully managed, what had been perceived as failures might have been recognized as delivering significant business value.

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