This is the fourth post in a series that is focusing on the top five design considerations you need to keep in mind for your projects. This post focuses on business intelligence projects specifically.
1. Data Model
The most important design consideration for a Business Intelligence project is to define the data model that will be able to provide the information that the business users require for analysis and reporting. The data model is usually implemented as a relational database that follows one of the well-known data warehouse methodologies such as Kimball or Inman.
2. Data Sources
After the data model is finalized, the next step is to identify the available data sources that can be used to populate the data model. There are usually many data sources to be reviewed such as ERP systems, custom applications, web services, social media, etc. To ensure a successful implementation, it is critical to map out how every data element in the data model will be populated from a data source. If there are any gaps where there is no available data for certain elements in the data model, a strategy must be determined to deal with the missing data.
3. ETL Processes
The Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) processes retrieve data from the data sources, transform the data, and load it into the data warehouse. The ETL process has to be carefully designed to take into consideration the best tools for the job, constraints on data source availability, and crafting a process that is efficient, reliable and maintainable. Ideally the ETL process is run automatically on a periodic basis to keep the data warehouse up-to-date.
4. Dashboards, Reports, etc.
Dashboards and reports are the key deliverable for the business community. A successful Business Intelligence project must provide out-of-the-box functionality that provides information workers with the information they need in a timely manner and in an intuitive user interface. SharePoint is a very popular choice for rendering dashboards and reports.
5. Power Users
Last but certainly not least, the business intelligence project must provide the information that power users need to perform ad-hoc queries, reporting and analysis. In addition, it is critical that the data warehouse support the various tools that power users use such as Report Builder, Excel, and PerformancePoint Services.
For more information, please visit our business intelligence thought leadership page.