Archive for the ‘BI/Data Warehouse’ Category


More Baseline Blogging – 24. December, 2010

As promised, there are more blogs to read at Baseline Consulting should you need something to do over the holidays…

Keep It On Track

Do You Know What Your Reports Are Doing?

Also, my recent post Making It Fit made it onto the B-Eye Network! Huzzah!

Happy Holidays!

Here We Go Again – 22. April, 2010

Today, gentle readers, we talk about tools that make people’s lives easier and why people don’t use them…

Data Profiling with SQL is Hazardous to Your Company’s Health!

Please, Please… – 8. April, 2010

A new blog posting from your humble narrator…

A Plea to the Engineers

Publication Notice, with a Twist – 22. February, 2010

A real live press release!

The Data Governance eBook

The Temporary Building – 24. September, 2009

A new posting by your humble narrator on the Baseline Consulting blog…

The “Temporary” Building

Publication Again – 17. July, 2009

Ever grateful for the opportunity provided by my company to write, I give you the latest installment…

Process is Half the Story

Podcast Alert – 22. April, 2009

I completed a podcast last week for regarding Dashboard design for business intelligence. Check it out…

Dashboard editors streamline ‘busy’ dashboards and spur user adoption

By the way – it only sounds like I’m on medication…;-)

The Case for the “IT Actuary”, Part 1 – 18. September, 2008

In Part 1 of this paper, we’ll take a look at the issue of Risk Management in the Information Technology field…

The Case for the “IT Actuary”

The success rate of business intelligence system implementation has been poor over the last twenty years. Millions of dollars are spent routinely on projects that ultimately fail to fulfill user expectations. Business users develop their own systems to operate their business analysis processes because the Information Technology group is slow to deploy solutions or the tools provided are not sufficient for managing business operations.

The common thread running through these and other major IT management issues is the inability of the staff to properly identify and quantify risk to the enterprise. This deficiency is generally due to the lack of a risk management skill set within the IT management hierarchy.  This article will use the example of shadow decision support systems to describe how risk management personnel – specifically, the concept of an actuary – can assist IT management in quantifying the risk inherent in major IT decisions and help senior business management enact and enforce more efficient management policies regarding major IT initiatives. This article will also discuss requirements for setting up such a practice, and the hurdles standing in the way of successful implementation.

The Issue

The proliferation of “shadow systems” and the IT response for management of these systems is addressed in the March 2008 Best Practices Report published by The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) entitled “Strategies for Managing Spreadmarts.”  This report is the latest in a series of articles describing the characteristics of non-IT business support systems and the issues they cause, published by TDWI and others. Shadow systems cause the production of inconsistent reports from different organizations within the enterprise, compromise data quality, and consume valuable personnel resources that could be used in other activities.

All of these articles and reports do a good job of describing the issues and risks of unmanaged data stores to the enterprise, but they do so in a general manner that is ultimately not useful or persuasive to the senior management personnel who are ultimately responsible for implementing controls over these shadow systems. The irony of the situation is that one of the main functions of a data warehousing organization is to provide accurate, functional measurements of business activities, but the data warehousing group often falls short of providing detailed supporting information for their claims of risk to the enterprise in many areas, including the proliferation of shadow data systems.

The lack of detailed risk analysis from IT groups is not a reflection of a disregard for the seriousness of the issues involved – the risks are well known from an anecdotal sense, but the skill set for quantifying the risks is not present in most IT departments.  Fortunately, a discipline exists for quantifying and detailing risk in business operations, but it is not generally applied to the field of information technology.

Next Time

Next time, we’ll look at the definition of “actuary,” and discuss some of the issues we come across that can be solved by actuarial concepts.

Spreadmarts and Ideology – 2. June, 2008

I read this article with great interest this morning:

Spreadmarts and the Ideology of BI

I appreciate perspectives that change my way of thinking, and this article does that in spades. Business Intelligence truly can be viewed as an ideology, and a fairly rigid one at that. Practitioners such as myself can be caught up in the mantra of “centralized storage for maximum efficiency” and craft all of our solutions in those terms.

I think that Western people in general tend to look at things in binary terms – good/evil, win/loss, etc. – and I think that this article does that as well. I don’t agree that centralized BI is bad, but I do agree that it must be more flexible in responding to business needs and behaviors. I submit that the most effective way of dealing with these issues is to talk in terms of risk generated for the organization. Deviation from the “standard” BI architecture makes risks larger, and that additional risk should be quantified and communicated to the business so that they can make intelligent decisions on the level of risk they are willing to carry. This way, the business users will know how items such as spreadmarts add to their risk profiles and decide on the appropriate course of action with full information.

I have more to say on the risk topic…