A few weeks ago, I was asked to help oversee a client's business intelligence project that was running behind schedule. By the time I joined the project, the requirements and design had been completed, and the delivery team had finished most of its development work. The ETL process was working properly, and several reports had been developed. However, the project had been stalled for several weeks, having made little or no progress. The reason for the delay was that each of the reports that had been developed needed to be "certified."

Approximately 15 reports had been requested for the first release of the system. The requirements team had been told that most of these would replace reports that users were currently receiving. The team was provided with a set of the existing reports, which were mainly Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The reports looked simple enough. Each column had a heading that identified the data it contained, and the team was told where the data was located. An estimate was made for how long the reports would take to develop. So what was the problem? In a word, metadata.

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