Many business and IT professionals will attest to the fact that project management is the key to successful data implementations, although few data analysts will agree.  When I previously referred to architecture, I meant an engineered approach to solving a complex, multi-faceted issue. Below I will start by citing some of the tricks of the trade noting that for the rest of the information – you will have to pay (you get what you pay for and in this case, its’ free)…

One of the most overlooked and yet an essential step of a data management challenge is to determine the current state of the environment, future state and then communicate this to the stakeholders.  This is best accomplished using a structured roadmap or blueprint – for defining and identifying how to get to the desired / future state (information nirvana as some of my friends refer to it).  By structured I mean that the roadmap uses an engineering approach that is organized for clarity of message. The roadmap process should at least include the following areas for consideration:

1. Identify the needs, scope and complexity of an information environment that will help executives, managers, and personnel

  • First is to understand the current state (so we can all agree that in the information age, data is $$$)
  • Second is how to achieve their shared business goals (buy in is critical from the highest levels of the organization)

2. Develop a clear direction for the business (message) and technical requirements (architecture) for an information environment (data, reporting and analytic) that is:

  • Documentation of the information environment (‘single dictionary of the truth for your unique enterprise including business terms’). This includes the definition, availability, completeness, accuracy and usability for all information elements (and business terminology used in the description thereof)
  • With the goals of ensuring that information is provided: In a timely matter to satisfy the business requirements, and secure (to limit data access as appropriate) and yet searchable, reportable and sharable amongst the community that needs it

The blueprint artifact should identify a number of key areas and provide for answers to questions that the stakeholders will require – these include the following examples of information that would be a part of a roadmap (but are not limited to):
-Business and IT requirements including research on similar organizations

-Findings of information investigation:

  • Business findings (high level business architecture / process)
  • Technical findings (maturity elements and comparison to a maturity model)
  • Core IT applications (mapping of data to systems [system to data diagram] and information sources and dimensions [bus matrix diagram])
  • Subject area usage and complexity (bus Matrix of reporting elements), and
  • Major issues and risks.

-Recommendations
 

  • Improve business performance and efficiency using …
  • Use of KPI’s to forecast business results, consolidate customer view …
  • Utilization of key players (defining groups and their needs) needs …
  • Master and reference data definition for critical business entities …
  • Establish data security including roles and controls including …
  • Data governance would include the following artifacts and roles …

- Project initiatives and phases required to get to the future state

  • Cost and resource estimates is a nice to have
  • Communication strategy and plan is essential
  • Integrated, iterative project plans that quickly demonstrate value while putting in place the structure for continued success
  • Implementation priorities and dependencies

Often it is best, as a senior IT executive, to provide an Executive Summary of the Blueprint Report as a presentation to the corporate or executive steering committee(s). This will enhance your role as an innovator as well as provide feedback to better hone the message for the future – in this economy; this is a must (I know, since I am currently searching for work!)