Blog | Jun 8, 2012
When Your “Pain Points” Point to a Data Warehouse
How to Get the Most Value
A while back I read a great article entitled "If You Build It" by David McCann of CFO Magazine. McCann wrote that that:
“No matter how much rigor a company may bring to it, building a data warehouse remains an act of faith. It can also entail a lot of pain.
So what prompts a company to do it? Pain."
Good answer. In my experience, there are a few questions that a smaller company may want to consider when deciding if their particular pain points are pointing to a data warehouse as the best next step for synthesizing data:
- How much time is currently being used to provide this information (both gathering the data and then transforming the data into information)?
- Is your current staff able to support the detail of the information needed to support the key factors that need to be tracked to ensure the business is and stays successful (i.e vitality)? Are you losing business to a competitor but can’t find out in time due to your lack of ability to do analysis at that level?
- How much is not having a data warehouse costing you in work-arounds? For instance, are you paying one set of consultants to do custom reports in an expensive programming language…yet the results of those reports are only helping a few users? Usually a data warehouse helps the many and not the few, and the reporting off of the data warehouse is usually far less expensive.
- Is the lack of a data warehouse causing internal staff to build complex queries that may be inaccurate, or that cost a lot of time to build—or both?
- Are you impacting transaction processing by hitting that system directly with reports?
Once you get started with a data warehouse implementation, the construction of the data warehouse and the reporting tool that you place on top of it are crucial. Researching best practices is very wise. Also, you should find an established, trusted partner in the industry to do a best fit analysis on both the data warehouse and the front end. If you are comfortable with what you are hearing, then you can start moving forward. Otherwise, get another analysis.
Building a data warehouse can be costly, but building the wrong data warehouse can have much larger cost. Taking these steps up front will pay off in the long run. But take it one step further: the users are going to see the data from a front end. If the front end is not planned out properly from the beginning, then a very successful data warehouse can actually be unsuccessful. Getting proper business buy-in and doing things in gradual steps are things that are within your grasp with proper planning. Combine all of these best practices, and you will not regret the cost of the data warehouse.
For more information, check out this archived webinar video on data warehousing best practices – it’s a condensed version of a seminar that we run that most attendees find very useful.