Lessons in Data Warehousing – Executive briefing with Warren Thornthwaite

March 19, 2012 By

Last week we were fortunate to have Warren Thornthwaite and Margy Ross from the Kimball Group deliver an excellent Data Warehouse Lifecycle In Depth training course in Canberra. Seizing the opportunity to gain insight from an industry thought leader in data warehousing, Altis hosted an executive briefing where Warren shared some of the lessons he’d learnt from his extensive experience with DW/BI implementations.

Warren’s presentation entitled “DW/BI Wisdom of the Ages” provided insightful and useful points in dealing with the many challenges of implementing a DW/BI solution, and his talk strongly resonated with his audience.

Some of my key take-aways of the common challenges included:
– Not having a defined measurable goal or outcome. (Ask yourself what is the purpose of the DW/BI solution)
– Business systems or solutions being driven by technology alone
– Organisation priorities changing faster than the core services can keep up
– Failing to manage expectations
– Failing to publicise solution and successes

So what can be done about it?
1. Expectation management and clearly defining the outcomes go hand in hand. Narrow down the initial scope to a manageable deliverable that must add business value. If you aren’t delivering business value, the purpose of the DW/BI solution is easily called into question. After initial delivery, celebrate the successes and move on to the next priority iteration. Iterative developments will allow greater flexibility to keep pace with changing requirements and moving priorities.
2. No solution should be driven by technology in isolation of the business. Build a bridge between business and IT and work as strategic partners in the organisation (rather than adversaries). This relationship is key, regardless of the tools or technologies involved.
3. The best solution in the world won’t increase its customer base by word of mouth alone. Educate your potential users in what is available to them, develop user champions within the business and constantly communicate what’s being done, what the DW/BI system can do and where it’s headed.

Following on from the presentation, conversations ensued about how many of the executives in the audience had experienced the challenges described by Warren and how they saw opportunities to prevent them becoming a problem for their current implementations.

To ensure you’re invited to future briefings or courses contact
Altis Consulting
+61 2 9211 1522


About Andy Painter

A passionate Information and Data Architect with experience of the financial services industry, Andy’s background spans pharmaceuticals, publishing, e-commerce, retail banking and insurance, but always with a focus on data. One of Andy’s principle philosophies is that data is a key business asset.
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