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One of the most soul destroying moments in the life of a data warehouse professional is when a key decision maker (usually backed by other key decision makers) decides to radically alter course, and “in a dance as old as time”, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

This can happen in various ways, but the most gut wrenching of all is this.

You have invested a lot of time and effort in providing consummate performance as a senior professional and ethical data warehouse practitioner, the business is happy with you, the management is happy with you, even the technicians are not unhappy with you, and then comes a crisis of faith. Maybe it’s because of a senior technician not liking your approach and melting down in a big time sulk, maybe it’s because a project manager gets cold feet after being fed dysfunctional fear-based nonsense from team members, maybe vested interests move to radically shift ground. Either way, what happens is that you lay an almost perfect path to success, identifying all the steps involved, all the products, all the stages, the process, the architecture, the tools and the technology, the roles and responsibilities, the dependencies, in fact, laying out everything in a clear, cohesive and precisely coalesced whole, and then what happens? The a key actor, call them the manager, says something like “I think we should take a different approach for the prototype”.

Let’s just take a look at that sketch involving Ted (The Manager) and Ingeborg (The Consultant), shall we?

Ted: Following conversation with Paul I have decided to revise our approach for the first iteration.

Ingeborg: Okay, cool, so what are the changes that you have made.

Ted: Well, for prototyping the first reports I have decided to cut out some intermediate steps.

Ingeborg: Like what?

Ted: We will basically build the MOLAP cubes directly off the source database.

Ingeborg: So, in the first iteration there will be no ETL?

Ted: No, no ETL.

Ingeborg: And no data cleansing or enrichment?

Ted: No. It wasn’t a consideration.

Ingeborg:And no data mart of federated data marts?

Ted: No.

Ingeborg: And no Data Warehouse?

Ted: No. We need to keep it as simple as possible.

Ingeborg: And what will this prove and how will it be usable going forward.

Ted: It will help ypu to familiarise yourself with the technology and the data.

Ingeborg: But the data isn’t complicated, at least for me, and the technology is a given.

Ted: I am getting the feeling that you are not happy.

Ingeborg: Well, as a professional I feel that it is my ethical duty to tell you that I wouldn’t do this in this way. The approach is actually well documented in the top ten reasons for data warehouse failure, and I think that in this case, you may actually be ticking more than one of the ten boxes.

Ted: That’s the way I want to approach the first iteration, and I still think you don’t understand the complexity of our data and how the business will use that data.

Ingeborg: Maybe so, but I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, although of course you have the final say of approach.

Ted: Well, I still see you don’t understand this business or the complexity of the data and the reports.

Ingeborg: Oh, of course, Minister, how thoroughly remiss of me.

Ted: You see, what you people fail to understand it is that all very well and good when you are up there in the big city with your champagne-swigging high-life traders, your reckless, profligate and coked-up bankers and your filthy-rich energy companies with their posh canteens, pollution bartering and global warming, but this is an organisation that cannot and does not work like that,

Ingeborg: Indeed, Minister. I couldn’t have put it better myself. (and in a whisper) If you want to drive a car with your feet, far be it from me to stop you.

Many years ago, I again wrote a letter to Bill Inmon grumbling about my then latest DW project. I complained that my client had just asked me to build a Data Warehouse that didn’t involve the building of an actual Data Warehouse, just a loose collection of data marts. His reply, which was of great value in terms of morale, and helped me in combatting this insidious issue, which as Bill told me at the time, comes around every year, just like the flu.

Many thanks for reading.


File under: Good Strat, Good Strategy, Martyn Richard Jones, Martyn Jones, Cambriano Energy, Iniciativa Consulting, Iniciativa para Data Warehouse, Tiki Taka Pro

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