In my previous article, I discussed goals the first building block of real-time data warehousing. In this article, I am going to discuss the second building block and that’s the road map.
Once the goals are defined, the next step in the process is identifying the steps required to achieve the goals. Although these steps are essentially the road map, an effective roadmap does more than just list the steps required to achieve the goals. The road map reiterates the goals, lists the projects to achieve each of the goals, references the customers for each goal, lists the projects in order of implementation and lists project durations and deliverables. In short, you should be able to look at the road map and know at a glance the what, when and who for each goal.
To provide some continuity across this series of articles and to the reiterate the goals step mentioned in my prior article, I’ve listed the goals:
- Create a supply chain system that’s world class from the business and technical perspectives,
- Retire the logistics systems, and
- Evolve the HR system to be world class from the business and technical perspectives.
To figure out the projects needed for each goal, I like to use the KISS (keep it simple) principle, which means listing the tasks that need to be done for each goal first and then translating these tasks into formal projects. For instance, Figure 2 shows a list of tasks and projects for the first goal and, to keep it simple, let’s assume off-the-shelf software is desired.
Figure 2: List of Tasks and Projects
Next, the customers for each goal need to be identified. The customers could be internal, external or both. The goals should be socialized with the prospective customers early to ensure they are on target and there is buy-in. Further, the customers should be committed to being active participants throughout the goal-realization process. This participation should include customer participation during requirements and analysis, project implementation, quality assurance, customer acceptance, post implementation and any other phases where customer participation would be a value-add for the customer, project or both.
The thing to remember is that building technology for the sake of technology is not acceptable. Someone should have a stake in all the projects that comprise a goal. The dynamic nature of real- time data warehousing and business in general guarantees that systems will evolve and change. Having customer participation ensures the evolution is in a positive direction that will ensure the success of the projects and systems at hand. Continuing with our example, Figure 3 shows a list of customers for the identified projects.
Figure 3: Customers for the Identified Projects
On the upside, the order of the projects works itself out almost naturally. On the downside, identifying the deliverables requires some effort in order to ensure the deliverables are unambiguous. Continuing with the supply chain example, Figure 4 list some examples deliverables for the identified projects:
Figure 4: Deliverables for the Identified Projects
With a list of projects and specific deliverables in hand, the project duration estimates become a lot easier. Say, for instance, a requirements and analysis project takes roughly two months by two dedicated resources. However, for this project only one and one-half resources can be dedicated so the duration will be roughly three months. In other words, each project and deliverable should be considered with due diligence to ensure that the project is not underestimated resource, time and budget-wise. To continue with our example, Figure 5 shows the final road map.
Figure 5: The Look of the Final Road Map
In closing, due diligence and customer involvement ensure the road map is realistic and in alignment with customer expectations. These two factors, more often than not, mark the difference between success and failure regardless of whether the project is a real-time data warehousing or a supply chain system project.
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