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Data Warehousing Implementation/Management

Introduction

Companies spend a great amount of time developing business strategies that will give them competitive advantage. To obtain the knowledge that is needed for strategic planning and execution, many companies are implementing data warehousing.

Data warehousing enables the transformation of raw data into applied strategic knowledge - a graduated process which Oak Enterprises terms The Information Value Chain:

Because of the competitive power a data warehouse provides, companies are including their data warehouse strategy as one of their core business strategies - not merely an IT initiative. Companies and financial markets recognize information as an asset, evidenced among other things by the practice of information accounting.

One of the major benefits of a data warehouse is that it provides all "knowledge workers" in a company (not just key executives) with the depth of intelligence they need to successfully perform their duties.

An approach to data warehousing as a cross-functional, core business strategy will best position an organization for maximum results. This is the approach that Oak Enterprises takes in helping companies implement data warehousing.

Key Characteristics of a Data Warehouse

  • Solves a critical business problem
  • Adds value beyond the mere collection of data
  • Aligned with stated business strategies and advances business strategy in a measurable way
  • Integrates key business processes, initiatives and capabilities
  • Enables business innovation by leveraging cross-departmental data (previously unattainable)
  • Integrates back-end analytical applications
  • Business models drive data warehouse solution
  • Integrates metadata across the data warehouse environment

Key Success Factors of a Data Warehouse Strategy

  • Strong internal collaborative sponsorship
  • An environment that provides the highest level of cross-functional/cross-organizational data sharing
  • Application of rigorous data quality standards and improvement
  • Follows an architectural framework (blueprint)
  • Incorporates an architecture/methodology that allows a repeatable process for designing and implementing data warehouses and data marts

The Importance of a Sponsor

Why is a Sponsor Important?

Studies have shown that 60% of the success (or failure) of a Data Warehouse project is directly related to the strength of the Sponsor within the organization.

What and who is a Sponsor?

  • The Sponsor is the data warehouse project "champion", the person who supports, promotes and drives the project from conception through completion.
  • The most successful data warehouse projects actually have two (2) Co-Sponsors - one from the "business community" and the other from IT. In most cases, these should be high-level executives (Vice President or above).
  • The sponsor from the business community is the one who has the most to gain by the successful completion of the project.

Role of the Sponsor

  • Usually funds the effort
  • Creates the vision of why this effort is important to the organization
  • Delivers the message to the business community of the benefits of this effort
  • Requests the complete participation and cooperation of the business community to ensure that the focus and time commitment are present
  • Becomes the person who removes obstacles as they develop
  • After a successful implementation, becomes your best friend!

Various Forms of Data Warehouses

There are a number of different types of data warehouses as well as hybrid versions specific to an organization. The major architectural forms are defined below.

  • Homogenous
    A uniform suite of online transaction processing (OLTP)/ application databases feeding a single enterprise data warehouse
  • Heterogeneous
    A non-uniform suite of OLTP/application databases feeding multiple subject data warehouses
  • Non-Architected
    A heterogeneous suite of OLTP/application databases creating multiple, non-discrete data marts
  • Closed-Loop
    A suite of OLTP/application databases feeding single or multiple data warehouses, which in turn "write back" data into the source feeder systems
  • Federated
    A suite of OLTP/application databases feeding subject data warehouse via a common staging area

While Oak Enterprises supports all forms of data warehousing solutions, we believe that a federated architecture gives the most value to most organizations today.

Federated architectures are the truly practical data warehousing solution. They represent the path to achieving cross-functional data sharing - one that enables the key goal of integrated analysis.

What Solution is Best for You?

There are several data management/analysis solutions, the three most common being:

  • Operational Data Store
  • Data Mart
  • Date Warehouse

With many considerations to weigh, it's best to utilize the expertise of Oak Enterprises for guidance. However, the following chart provides a comparative overview of the structure and usage of each of these common solutions:

Operational Data Store vs. Data Mart vs. Data Warehouse

  Operational
Data Store
Data
Mart
Data
Warehouse
How Used Tactical Strategic Strategic
Users Operational Staff Strategic Staff Operational and Strategic Staff
Data Format Cross Functional Cross Functional Cross Functional
Data Type Dynamic Static Static
Structure Relational (Normalized) Dimensional Dimensional
Type of Data Transactional Level Highly Summarized Lightly Summarized
Data Usage Structured Repetitive Queries Structured Repetitive Queries Structured Ad Hoc Queries
Query Response Seconds to Minutes Minutes Minutes to Hours
Advantage Availability of Integrated Data Speed of Queries Flexibility of Queries

Oak Enterprises' Philosophy and Approach

We feel our methodology and approach to data warehousing is uniquely advantageous to clients. It begins with a strong collaborative philosophy: we don't try to re-invent your company or inject ourselves into your company management. Instead, we work with you, wrapping our skilled talent around your key employees. The result? Smooth data warehousing integration, critical understanding of all the issues, buy-in from all key personnel, and an educated workforce at the project's conclusion which is positioned to carry forward without outside assistance.

Here's our approach:

  • Apply best practices
  • Utilize tried and proven techniques, methods and processes
  • Deploy focused teams of highly-skilled professionals
  • Commission projects using a balanced, multi-disciplinary team of business and IT experts within the client company
  • Apply comprehensive set of project management disciplines to all projects, regardless of size or complexity
  • Communicate progress and accomplishments on a regular basis
  • Maintain high-frequency communications with all key stakeholders
  • Manage high-impact, short-duration initiatives
  • Provide an evolutionary path to achieve the desired architectural end-state

Oak Enterprises - helping companies transform data into knowledge.

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