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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

In my recent blog posting, "Metadata is Key," I talked about one way of changing the mindset of managers and implementers in support of the coming "semantic wave" of linked data management. Today, I give you another way to prepare for the coming revolution, and also become more disciplined and effective in your project management whether you're going down the semantic road or not...

  rathole (n) -  [from the English idiom ”down a rathole” for a waste of money or time] A technical subject that is known to be able to absorb infinite amounts of discussion time without more than an infinitesimal probability of arrival at a conclusion or consensus.

  Anyone who has spent time implementing computer systems knows exactly what I'm talking about here. Meetings can sometimes devolve into lengthy discussions that have little to do with the subject at hand. Frequently, these meetings become quite emotional, which makes it difficult to refocus the discussion on the meeting's subject. The end result is frustration felt by the project team on "wasting time" on unrelated subjects, with the resulting lack of clarity and potential for schedule overruns.

One method for mitigating this issue is the presence of a "rathole monitor" in each meeting. I was introduced to this concept at a client several years ago, and I was impressed by the focus they had in meetings, much to the project’s benefit. A "rathole monitor" is a person who does not actively participate in the meeting, but understands the scope and breadth of the proposed solution very well and has enough standing in the organization that they are trusted. This person listens to the discussion  in the meeting, and interrupts when he perceives that the conversion is veering off into an unrelated direction. It is important for this person to record this divergence and relay it to the project management team for later discussion - the discussion is usually useful to the project, and if these new ideas are not addressed later, people will keep these ideas to themselves, which could be detrimental to the project.

  This method will pay dividends in current project management, but how does it relate to semantics and linked data? Semantic technology is all about context and relationships of data objects - in fact, without these objects and relationships being well defined, semantic processing  is impossible.  Therefore, developing a mindset of scope and context is essential to the successful implementation of any semantically enabled application. Training your staff to think in these terms makes your organization perform in a more efficient and focused manner, which will surely lead to increased profitability and more effective operations.

photo by xJasonRogersx 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 16, 2010 6:00 AM
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