What Does Management Need to Know about Data Warehousing?

Somewhere in your organizational hierarchy, somebody has control over budgeted funds that he or she can allocate to your data warehousing project or to another project elsewhere in the organization, to purchase capital equipment (more computers, for example), or to pay for some other purpose.

Who needs to be sold on the data warehousing project

You have to sell that person on the business value of a successful data warehousing implementation and deployment.

And you also have to convince that person’s boss. And that next person’s boss, and the next person’s boss, and all the way up the hierarchy until you present your argument on the business value of data warehousing to someone whose job title has the words chief and officer in it.

Whether that person is the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, or even the chief executive officer, someone at or near the top must believe that a substantial return on investment will come from successful data warehousing in your company.

All the job titles in the preceding paragraph are from the business side of your organization. Although you do need the chief information officer or the chief technology officer from the IT side of the business to be 100-percent behind both the principles of data warehousing and the investment in your organization’s data warehousing projects, IT support isn’t enough.

Executives up the organizational hierarchy on the business side don’t have to know about the mechanics behind data warehousing. Some of them might have attended conferences where data warehousing was discussed, or they might have read about the subject. They might even be grounded in its fundamentals.

Keep selling the data warehousing project

Anyone who has been involved in any type of application development effort, whether from the corporate, consulting, or vendor side, knows that continued funding is almost always in question.

No matter how enthusiastic the support is at the beginning of the project, no matter how many statements they make that “this project is the most important one in the corporation today,” and no matter what they budget for your project, budget cuts or shifting priorities can always disrupt a project.

Therefore, from the earliest possible opportunity in the project (90 days at most — 60 days is even better), you need to establish a tangible business benefit for real-life use by the highest-ranking business executive who holds the funding strings for your project. Be sure to

  • Provide a set of interconnected reports, dashboards, and OLAP views that you know can help this person perform analysis and make decisions. (Hint: Just ask.)

  • Use real, not fake, data (even a small amount).

  • Solicit feedback about usability, later steps, and everything else you can think of to ensure that the executive fully believes in your project and (unless something out-of-the-ordinary happens) will continue the funding until you complete the project.

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