The First Step to a Successful Cloud Data Warehouse Project - Part 1

If you are looking to implement a cloud data warehouse or have made the decision to transition your legacy warehouse to a modern solution, you need some clever planning in place to ensure project success.

One of the reasons many Business Intelligence projects fail to deliver, is because business requirements and objectives have not been properly considered.

In this 2-part article we will explore 5 steps that should be undertaken prior to embarking on a cloud data warehouse project.

  1. Evaluate your organisations appetite for change

Making the switch to cloud requires more than just a change in architecture, it requires a change to business thinking. You need to investigate and discover what your organisation’s true driver is, as well as the appetite for change.

The main reluctance we see from IT Departments relates to risk and responsibility. It certainly is important to assess the risk involved in the adoption of any new solution, however this must be carefully weighed against the potential for reward.  Avoid making decisions based on fear, instead focus on what will create the greatest business benefit.

Cloud has matured significantly over the last decade and is now relied upon by some of Australia’s most regulated and data-rich organisations, including the major banks. More organisations are choosing cloud providers because their business model relies on ensuring they deliver a secure environment for their clients. In most cases cloud providers have greater resources to manage security with entire teams dedicated to that sole responsibility.

Cost is another factor that needs to be considered when evaluating your organisations appetite for Cloud. Yes, the initial investment may be high, however the value cloud delivers far outweighs this upfront cost. Firstly, a modern cloud data warehouse offers usage-based pricing, a flexible model where you only pay for the cost of storage used and the cost of compute resources consumed. This means that you are not being charged for idle compute time. Secondly, you can reduce long-term expenditure as there is no need for networking, server rooms, excess hardware, nor the associated maintenance costs. Lastly, consider the opportunity cost of not using Cloud. The single biggest benefit of the Cloud is that it makes data available and at the centre of all decision-making. With its speed and performance multiple business users can self-serve and gain access to the data they need without affecting the processing power.

These are just some of the internal concerns you will likely need to be ready to answer. During your evaluation, always balance risk and reward and focus on communicating how the solution you recommend will deliver the greatest business benefit.

  1. Align data warehouse needs with strategic business goals for one common vision

To support data-driven decision making, a cloud data warehouse needs to be built to cater to strategic business plans. Unfortunately, many organisations only focus on the technical aspects of designing a data warehouse and fail to consider the architecture from a business perspective. The difference with a business-oriented approach is that it defines company goals, objectives, strategies and tactics that will be used to drive growth.

To align your data warehouse needs to your company’s strategic objectives you need to review Key Performance Indicators and long-term goals, then, re-engineer the data that is required to measure the success of these indicators.

By getting clear on your company’s goals, you can begin generating real value for stakeholders and focus your efforts on providing them access to data that will allow them to discover insights. Involve decision makers in a process of qualifying and validating their department’s goals. Ensure that what they consider to be ‘priorities’ actually aligns with the business. A unified strategy that considers their needs and aligns them with company goals is likely to achieve greater project success, project sponsorship and management buy-in.

  1. Determine the (agile) scope of the project

We are not talking about the “traditional” project scope that is rigid, instead at Minerva we promote agile scope management.

This style of project management requires the project lead to gather high-level requirements and focus primarily on the business outcomes.  Unlike a traditional project scope, an agile methodology welcomes changes. In fact, a successful project would see changes to the original scope as the project team becomes more experienced.

So, how it is possible to change requirements and avoid budget and time blow-outs?

Prioritisation. You must be able to ruthlessly prioritise and determine the value of new requirements and either push-out or remove the lowest-priority features.

By focusing on the business outcomes, rather than detailed scope deliverables, you can adjust to changing business requirements if they are going to add value to the project.

A successful cloud data warehouse implementation relies on strategic business planning. If you are in the process of considering a cloud data warehouse or a data migration project why not contact us at Minerva Partners?

We are a Management Consultancy that is laser focussed on business transformation, and we assist CFOs, CIOs and transformation specialists every day to improve their data management, budgeting, forecasting, and planning, allowing them more time to focus on business growth and strategy.

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