In the data warehousing industry, we are continuing to see the maturation of the value proposition and the management of risk. In the early days, the technology was experimental. Data warehouse projects consumed millions on nothing more than the promise of "if we build it, I'm sure it will pay for itself. After all, XYZ Company found out something that caused their warehouse project to pay for itself in only six months!" Vendors were great at sending the message that "all of your competitors are building these systems in secret, because they consider it to be a competitive advantage. We would share more information, but we are under non-disclosure."
The promise of striking gold in the mountains of data was the subject of serious boardroom conversations. And those that failed to achieve the promise, either because the system was never built, or because it was delivered late and way over budget, or because they didn't find the nuggets of gold they had hoped for, kept their mouth shut. They didn't want their colleagues or competitors to know.
Now it is generally known that data warehouse projects can fail, and have failed, and as a result, less of them actually do fail. We understand the risks and how to manage them.
Here are several of the factors that have contributed to our ever-increasing success:
- We adopted the iterative PM methodology, and now use it almost exclusively, where large projects are divided into 90-day
- deliverables, and the projects with the greatest ROI and highest probability of success are done first. Scalable technology has contributed significantly to minimizing the risk in up-front capital investments.
- We understand data quality issues and always evaluate it up front, often times as part of the assessment. We know that you can't make a gourmet dinner out of garbage.
- We understand that organizations must cooperate in order to integrate data, and organize project teams and identify executive sponsors accordingly.
- The technology to build, maintain, manage, and mine the systems is much better, and there are many more experienced technologists available. In the mid-90's, there were only a few people who had successfully built a terabyte level system. Now there are hundreds.
For more information, check out SearchCRM's Best Web Links on Data Warehousing.
This was first published in June 2002