Well-run organizations routinely evaluate themselves every year or two. Organizations need an outside assessment by data warehouse experts who will identify the areas that are in need of serious attention and set a course to correct any problems.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Data Warehouse Assessment focuses on the most critical areas, those areas that determine success or failure. The focus areas will include the assessment of:
Organization – roles, responsibilities, structure of the organization including the role of the user
Metadata – the strategy and implementation of data about data
Business value – cost justification and governance of projects
Methodology – the process by which the data warehouse is developed and maintained
Delivery and tools – the interface seen by the user
Architecture – the hardware, software and network that supports the data warehouse
Strategic direction – support of the strategic goals of the organization
Data acquisition and cleansing – the critical activity of sourcing, extracting and cleaning the data
Requirements – the process to determine just what information the users need
Data modeling – how models are developed and used for the data warehouse
Data base design – the design of the data warehouse databases being significantly different than those that are operational
Performance – response time as well as load/refresh/update performance
User satisfaction – usability of data, flexibility and responsiveness of IT to new requirements, satisfaction with the quality of the data
When to Assess the Data Warehouse
Certainly any data warehousing initiative that is just beginning will benefit from a rigorous and comprehensive assessment. The results of such an assessment provide extensive information to position the initiative for success. Information about past efforts and current warehousing deployments describe the point at which the initiative is to begin. Information about business needs for, and expectations of, the warehouse describe the desired ending point of the effort. Assessment of the technical and organizational environments in which it will operate help to integrate the warehouse into existing business and IT processes. And understanding the readiness of the organization to build, operate, and use a warehouse, helps to plan the development and deployment projects.
Data warehousing assessment, however, is beyond the early stages. As needs, technologies, and environments change, reassessment has value throughout the life of the data warehouse. Assessment techniques can be effectively applied to data warehouses in various stages of maturity and completeness. A well-structured assessment is appropriate at any point where warehouse value and direction are uncertain, or at any time that the existing approach and infrastructure have become problematic. Typical times that a maturing data warehouse may benefit from reassessment include:
In these situations, or at any time when information is needed to increase or sustain the business value of the warehouse, assessment is the right approach. Clearly, then, data warehouse assessment is not a one-time event. Any of the situations just described may apply to a single warehouse at different points of implementation and maturity. Data warehousing represents a long-term commitment, and a key business enabler. Sustained value – given that the warehouse is deployed within a continuously changing landscape of technology, organizational structure, business priorities, and marketplace realities – demands a warehouse that evolves and adapts. Periodic assessment of the data warehouse may be necessary to ensure continued health, vitality, and value.