IT expertise alone is not the key criterion for success. Stakeholders across each department in your business possess valuable domain expertise, and not tapping into this resource can have disastrous consequences.
Data warehouses are complex systems, and building one from scratch naturally requires a deep understanding of software engineering. However, IT expertise alone is not the key criterion for success. Stakeholders across each department in your business possess valuable domain expertise, and not tapping into this resource can have disastrous consequences.
Failing to engage all stakeholders from the earliest stage of the development process means that critical requirements issues—for example, around data definitions—will remain hidden until well into the development process. To avoid this, a consultative, root-and-branch approach is essential, both to gather the requirements for the data repository, and to engage all stakeholders in the business with the ultimate aim of the project.
It is also important to recognize that there are two main types of domain expertise in your organization: industry-specific and department-specific expertise.
Let’s consider an example that highlights the importance of this distinction. A financial services organization that had grown rapidly by acquisition decided to migrate its multiple legacy systems to a central data repository. As a first step, the company transferred the transaction and position data from one of its legacy systems to the new platform, only to discover that one percent of the transactions did not add up to the reported total of the positions. After months of costly analysis, the company discovered that the error was caused not by a technical issue with the transformation process, but rather by legacy account numbers from an acquisition dating back 15 years.
So, what went wrong? Clearly, industry-specific expertise and IT competence were not lacking, as the team was able to migrate its data to the new platform successfully. The situation arose because the team—despite their deep industry-specific expertise—did not realize that there were unique properties in the data structures of the positions that had resulted from a decades-old merger. In other words, department-specific expertise was the missing piece. Without engaging experts in each of your departments, challenges such as these—which can only be solved with the help of knowledgeable insiders—can quickly derail your development efforts.
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Exploring the risks and opportunities of a do-it-yourself approach.