One of the most valuable by-products of the Data Warehousing revolution in the early 1990's was the development of several sophisticated Iterative Development Methodologies, for example, "Iterations" from Prism. These have become standard in the industry for CRM, Data Warehousing, and Business Intelligence projects, and for many others as well. Let's take a minute to review why.
The Iterative approach starts by splitting the overall program into smaller projects, usually to be completed in 90-day increments. During the Master Planning phase, the iterations are defined and ranked according to their ROI. As much as possible, the most valuable projects are completed first, although technical considerations may require that some foundational iterations be completed before more valuable ones. The Master Plan is constantly revisited so that the value and sequence of the iterations can be re-assessed and plans can be changed. Using this approach, the maximum value is returned in the least time, budgets are more easily controlled, and scope creep can be minimized. Projects can be completed in parallel if the architecture and resources allow, and the entire program can be suspended if necessary, probably having already returned significant value.
There are a just a few special requirements for success, including a flexible overall architecture and scalable components. The early iterations may have to absorb more than their fair share of the infrastructure
So when you start to think about your next big program, CRM, DW, BI or otherwise, think iterative!
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This was first published in February 2002