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Rating Your Data Warehouse Consultant

Published
  • March 01 1998, 1:00am EST
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As surely as dandelions grow in the springtime, consultants with gaudy resumes follow the latest trend in the industry. And data warehousing is no exception. In 1990 there was a total population of about five qualified experts on data warehousing. Today there are hundreds of consultants with ten or more years experience. Where did this crop of experts suddenly come from? And more to the point, if you are using consulting help, are you getting your money's worth?

There is a powerful case to be made for consultants in the data warehousing industry. A knowledgeable and experienced consultant can guide you and your company past some nasty potholes simply by having "been there before." In that regard, when you find an experienced and knowledgeable consultant, that person can be worth their weight in gold. But there simply cannot be as many truly qualified consultants as the resumes on the street would have you believe. So in order for you to determine whether you are getting your money's worth from the consultant that you hired last week, why don't you put your consultant to this little test. The score your consultant gets can tell you a lot about what kind of job your consultant is going to do (or perhaps currently is doing) for you.

This two-part quiz is designed to probe a breadth of topics. The first part is an organizational check, and the second part is a content quiz. Your consultant needs to pass both parts with flying colors.

To begin this exercise set your consultant's point to zero.

Organizational Check

1. If the primary goal of your consultant is to transfer skills to your own organization, add 10 points for your consultant. If your consultant's primary goal is to produce a product without the passing on of skills, add no points. If your consultant is somewhere in between, add points on a scale of 1 to 10 accordingly.

2. If your consultant is working on a task that will end in six months or less, add 10 points. If the task is longer than six months, subtract one point for each month the task is over six months. If the task is indefinite, add no points to the total.

3. If your consultant's task is well defined with a clearly stated deliverable, add 10 points. The more undefined or hazier the deliverable, the fewer points you add. If there is no well-defined deliverable, add no points.

4. If your consultant has not sold you on the work being done using the "bait and switch" technique, add 10 points. If the consultant has sold you by sending in a team of dazzling sales people and then staffed the project with kids just out of school who have not even read a book on data warehousing, add no points. If your consultant has staffed your project with a mixture of veterans and rookies, add points appropriately between one and ten.

5. If your consultant's credentials are genuine (and you will find this out as you work with the consultant on a day-to-day basis), add ten points. If your consultant's credentials are not genuine, then add no points.

6. Subtract 50 points if your consultant advises you to throw everything away and start over from scratch, doing it the "right" way (i.e., the consultant's way). Any consultant that does not build on the foundation that has already been laid-- however unique--is out to suck as many dollars from you as one can.

Content

1. If your consultant uses a spiral development methodology, add ten points. If your consultant uses no methodology or a waterfall methodology for development, add no points.

2. If your consultant plans to deliver your first iteration of development in three months time, add ten points.

3. If your consultant knows what DSS data warehouse meta data is, add 5 points. If your consultant is delivering meta data as a part of the warehouse, add another 5 points.

4. If your consultant encourages you to use a tool of automation for the creation of the integration and transformation layer, add 10 points. If your consultant encourages you to build the interface manually, add no points. If your consultant encourages you to build the interface manually with bodies supplied by the consultant's firm, subtract ten points.

5. If your consultant understands the complexity of integration that occurs as data passes from the operation warehouse environment, add ten points. If your consultant thinks that data warehouses are created by replicating data from the operational environment to the DSS data warehouse environment, add no points.

6. If your consultant encourages you to build the enterprise data warehouse before you build the data mart, add ten points. If your consultant encourages you to build a data mart before you build the data warehouse, subtract ten points for every data mart that the consultant builds before the consultant learns that they have made a serious mistake. If your consultant does not know the difference between a data mart and a data warehouse, subtract 25 points.

7. Add five points if your consultant mentions security during the development process. Add another five points if your consultant actually knows how to implement security in the warehouse environment.

8. Add five points if your consultant knows what dormant data is. Add another five points if your consultant knows how to find dormant data in your warehouse.

9. Add five points if your consultant knows how to monitor the activity that occurs inside the warehouse environment. Add another five points if your consultant knows how to monitor the content of data inside a warehouse.

10. Add five points if your consultant understands the use of a data model in the building of a data warehouse. Add another five points if your consultant knows where to get a generic data model that can be used immediately.

Well, that's it. How did your consultant do? Add up all the points and the absolute highest score your consultant could make is 150. But if you have answered the questions truthfully, a score of 100 points is awfully good.

Please use the following scale for appropriate action:

150-125 points: Worship the ground your consultant walks on.

125-100 points: You have a real winner. You would do well to listen to your consultant at every opportunity.

100-75 points: Your consultant may be doing good things for you, but you might politely suggest that your consultant read a few books on data warehousing.

75-50 points: You need to consider looking for a new consultant.

50-25 points: Your consultant has sold you a bill of goods.

25-0 points: Your consultant is doing more harm than good. Get a new consultant immediately.

<0 points: Run do not walk to your lawyer to see what entanglements you have in getting rid of your consultant as quickly as possible. Change the locks right now.

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