Building and Maintaining a Data Warehouse
Building a Data Warehouse can be a remarkably simple task. Vendors of Data Warehouse Products will tell you that it is as simple as writing a few scripts to bring your live data into a slightly rearranged reporting database, and magically your business has all the data you need in one place. Data Warehouse Vendors tend to ignore the very real challenges of merging your data together, processing it correctly, testing the system, and even generating meaningful BI Reports out of it. All that said, there are some remarkably quick wins for a Data Warehouse BI solution, like pulling data into a purpose built reporting system to reduce strain on your line of business systems and future proofing your reports from system upgrades.
The first step in designing a Enterprise Data Warehouse solution is to get data into it. Knowing what you plan to use the Data Warehouse for is key. Using a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Reporting Services in tandem is the general case, but Data Warehouses also have a key role to play as the middle step in any Master Data Management implementation, and can also serve as the data source for any other B2B or Silo to Silo data transfer processes. A good Data Warehouse Consulting Company will always recommend that you put a processed Data Warehouse between any two vendor applications to ensure that upgrading any one system doesn’t necessitate the work necessary to update reports or downstream integrations. Doing this allows you to change even the source of a set of data, without affecting any of the applications using the Data Warehouse as a data source.
The next step up in building a data warehouse is ensuring that your data warehouse is operating efficiently. Data warehouse testing consists of two important steps. First, ensuring that all the data going into your data warehouse accurately reflects the data in the primary systems. In the case of simple transference this isn’t an issue, but Data Warehouse Business Intelligence reports don’t see their full value as simple copies of the source systems. Data Warehouse Consultants will frequently merge multiple system data sets together, creating a single complex noun out of data values from a wide variety of systems. Tracing this data back to it’s source is as complex as the process used to create it.
The second form of testing is to ensure the resiliency of your Data Warehouse BI solution. Data Warehouse Consulting is as much about ensuring that your business can continue to use the solution after the job is done as it is about building a working solution in the first place. If you aren’t in a place to maintain your solution through your existing Enterprise IT, your Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence services are at risk. When deploying your Data Warehouse, testing needs to be run to ensure that your Data Warehouse Integrations are robust and accurately and reliably report connectivity issues to the correct party. Nothing is worse than a Data Warehouse Integration that fails silently and corrupts data and reports down the line.
The final step is ensuring that your Data Warehouse is being used as a data source where ever appropriate. This means a well thought out change management process and developing new uses for the Data Warehouse on an ongoing basis. Rolling out a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence solution in the same project is a good way to ensure the initial ROI of your Data Warehouse Project, but don’t stop there. It takes effort after the Data Warehouse Consultants have left to make sure that the implementation stays up to date and that new functionality continues to target the Data Warehouse.