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Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!


By Stephen Putman, Senior Consultant


Spreadsheet


The implementation of a new business intelligence system often requires the replication of existing reports in the new environment. In the process of designing, implementing and testing the new system, issues of data elements not matching existing output invariably come up. Many times, these discrepancies arise from data elements that are extrapolated from seemingly unrelated sources or calculations that are embedded in the reports themselves that often pre-date the tenure of the project team implementing the changes. How can you mitigate these issues in future implementations?


Issues of post-report data manipulation can range from simple - lack of documentation of the existing system - to complex and insidious - "spreadmarts" and stand-alone desktop databases that use the enterprise system for a data source, for example. It is also possible that source systems make changes to existing data and feeds that are not documented or researched by the project team. The result is the same - frustration from the business users and IT group in defining these outliers, not to mention the risk absorbed by the enterprise in using unmanaged data in reports that drive business decisions.


  The actions taken to correct the simple documentation issues center around organizational discipline:



  • Establish (or follow) a documentation standard for the entire organization, and stick to it!

  • Implement gateways in development of applications and reports that ensure that undocumented objects are not released to production

  • Perform periodic audits to ensure compliance


Reining in the other sources of undocumented data is a more complicated task. The data management organization has to walk a fine line between control of the data produced by the organization and curtailing the freedom of end users to respond to changing data requirements in their everyday jobs. The key is communication - the business users need to be encouraged to communicate data requirements into an easy-to-use system and understand the importance of sharing this information with the entire organization. If there is even a hint of disdain or punitive action regarding this communication, it will stop immediately, and these new derivations will remain a mystery until anther system is designed.


The modern information management environment is heading more and more towards transparency and accountability, which is being demanded by both internal and external constituencies. The well-documented reporting system supports this change in attitude to reduce risk in external reporting and increase confidence in the veracity of internal reports, allowing all involved to make better decisions and drive profitability of the business. It is a change whose time has come.


photo by r h via Flickr (Creative Commons License)




StevePutman_bw_100Stephen Putman has over 20 years experience supporting client/server and internet-based operations from small offices to major corporations.   He has extensive experience in a variety of front-end development tools, as well as relational database design and administration, and is extremely effective in project management and leadership roles. He is the co-author of The Data Governance eBook, available at information-management.com.





Posted December 21, 2010 6:00 AM
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