Where Do We Start? A Data Warehousing Strategy for New and Renewed Implementations

I am preparing to sell my house. (A house I don’t want to sell, but my husband says we are moving, so we are moving . . . but that is another story.)  So, we need make our house valuable to someone – valuable enough that they will buy it.  The yard really needs some work.  So, here are some of the questions that go through my mind. 

First, there are the big questions, for example:

  • Should we pay thousands and implement a totally new landscape so it has incredible curb appeal, or do we upgrade by keeping the cost low and piecemeal any additions or changes?
  • Do we trust a landscaping architect to determine how it will look, or should we take an active role?  

Then, there are the more detailed questions:

  • What plants should we extract, transform, or load – I mean plant? 
  • Where will we purchase them? 
  • Should we purchase from one enterprise store or take the time to look for the lowest price at several stores? 
  • Should we create a simplistic low maintenance landscape that may not look as good or derive a complex schema that looks better? 
  • How should we determine the schema? 
  • What about dirt and mulch? 
  • How do we get rid of the bugs? 
  • What about the outdated shelves and cabinet hardware?  Would money be better invested there?
  • Good heavens!  Should we even bother with any of it? 
  • Fertilizer.

Where do we start?

Maybe you have been tasked with overseeing or participating in the implementation of an enterprise BI program, or maybe you are in charge of revitalizing one data warehouse instance among many across your institution. Perhaps no one has tasked you with anything of the sort, but you are in the process of implementing a new ERP system, like PeopleSoft, and you know a data warehouse/business intelligence solution is in your future. 

Data warehousing is among the myriad tools designed to assist in the management of higher education, and implementing a data warehouse is a big deal. It can cost millions of dollars and create seismic waves throughout the university community, but it can also be well-worth the investment. However, once the decision has been made to create or reinvigorate a data warehousing or business intelligence program, certain decisions must follow for the initiative to be successful. 

First, there are the big questions, for example:

  • Should we pay millions and totally revamp the BI Program so it has mass appeal, or do we keep the cost low and piecemeal any additions or changes?
  • Do we trust a consulting company to determine how it will look, or should we take an active role? 

Then, there are the more detailed questions:

  • What products should we use? 
  • Where will we purchase them? 
  • Should we purchase all our tools from one vendor or take the time to look for the lowest prices at several vendors? 
  • Should we buy low maintenance tools that might not stay up-to-date or higher maintenance ones that will keep us moving forward technologically? 
  • How should they be implemented? 
  • What about hardware? 
  • How do we get rid of the existing bugs? 
  • What about the cloud?
  • What about the outdated source systems?  Would money be better invested there?
  • Good heavens!  Should we even bother with any of it? 
  • Facts.

Basically, the questions boil down to, “Where do we start?” 

In the case of my yard, in order to know where to start, we need to know where we are. We need to assess our landscaping challenges, consider our goals, and then parse the types of products and services needed. Then, we can methodically begin to determine the best options and initiate the process that will help sell our house.

Likewise, by understanding the current data warehousing landscape through assessment and an understanding of the possibilities, we can begin to lay the groundwork for a real vision for the future. Put another way for the DW savvy, we need to understand the dimensions before we can determine the facts that relate to those dimensions. This will provide us with the insight we need to ensure that our data-driven decisions will result in an actualized data warehouse/BI Program vision.

John Rome and I will co-present a session at the 2012 Alliance Conference in Nashville titled, Where Do We Start?  A Data Warehousing Strategy for New and Renewed Implementations (Session #30482, Monday, March 19, 10:45-11:45 am).

If you want to meet a visionary, come to our presentation. No, that visionary is not yours truly. The visionary is John Rome, Deputy CIO and Director of Business Intelligence at Arizona State University. John’s down-to-earth background coupled with his vision for higher education institutions and coated with his rather dry sense of humor are bound to make our presentation worth attending. While I can provide tools for assessment, John can provide the business intelligence vision you will need to get your stakeholders excited and involved in your data warehouse and business intelligence initiatives. After all, insight is necessary for transformation.

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About Janet Fleming, CedarCrestone Senior Consultant

Ms. Fleming has more than 20 years higher education experience in the U.S. and abroad including nine years in the upgrade and implementation of the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions application for a broad range of institutions including multi-institution, public, private, research, and community colleges. She has significant experience gathering reporting requirements, mapping requirements as they relate to business processes, and working with developers to meet those requirements. Ms. Fleming has significant management and consulting experience. Most recently, Ms. Fleming spent four years as a consultant with Oracle Corporation where she contributed to cutting edge discussions concerning strategies and development. She has specialized knowledge of reporting where she provided solution architect support, led the design and implementation of an operational data store, and led the implementation of state and federal reporting functionality. Ms. Fleming holds a master of education in higher education, from University of Houston and a bachelors of science in psychology from University of Houston, Clear Lake. She is certified as a Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) through The Data Warehousing Institute.

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