The Analysis and Design phases

As many people are aware a good start often makes a good end.
Since Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence projects can be quite large - over time, it is imperative that the analysis, planning and overall design (architecture) is done right - and up front.
Another way to say this, is that Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence is not a project, but a program. And should be managed as such.This puts extra emphasis on the analysis and planning phases - you need "maps" to guide you as the program rolls out, one project after the other.
What I focus on on this site, is exactly this. The first 3-6 months are very important, whereas the rest in many ways is a "small matter of programming", as they say.... (Well, there is more to it than that, but anyway).

The first phases

Whatever you decide to call it (eg preanalysis), the deliverables of the analysis and planning phases are these:

In brief, the flow is the following:
Top management decides on top priorities for business development using data warehouse and business intelligence and aligns them with the strategy plan and business plans.
A number of workshops are held adressing the issues of:
  • Business Concepts (which parts of the business)
  • Key Indicators (what to measure in the end)
  • Reports (what to be able to produce in the end)
  • Data Profiling (where is the data, and what do they look like)
Each of these issues are dealt with in different tracks, which may involve further workshops. Certainly the work is not over for the business people, who are participating in the project. In fact, this is a business project - so far there has been no it involvement.

Information-driven Business Analysis

The Business Concept Maps are the important deliverables, key to the rest of the program and all subsequent projects. It is produced based on both existing reports, spreadsheet, screen, user guides as well as brainstorming types of workshops using simple diagramming tools. Why Concept Mapping is the best for information driven business analysis is explained on the "BI RETIna" site. See about our eLearning offerings and also the Business Concept page for more guidelines. Or read my book about Business Concept Mapping:

Design Thinking Business Analysis - Business Concept Mapping Applied
Thomas Frisendal
© Springer, 2012
ISBN 978-3-642-32843-5

The Key Performance Indicators are established by business people up front, including detailed rules for calculation etc.
Same thing for the Reports. A this stage it is only a matter of the content, not the layout and so forth. KPI's and Reports function as checklists for the testing phase later on; can we deliver the necessary information?
Data Profiling is done early (and before project sizing) in order to discover particularly troublesome data. In this manner you can scope and size with high precision. You cannot plan for what you do not know! And you cannot build on sand!
Cost / benefit is obvioiusly also important at this stage - before you scope and size.
Finally a phased implementation plan can be established. Based on business priorities, of course.
Aim for early successes ("low hanging fruits") and ensure management and business expert involvment from the beginning and all the way.
This project scheme is based on experiences learned the hard way...