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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at wmcknight@mcknightcg.com.

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

I am fascinated by Easter Island and plan to visit there someday to see the giant moai. I have a picture of one on my wall, oversighting me as I work.

Easter Island is a story of a people who, while the land was productive for them, allowed themselves the luxury of building giant statues of their ancestors, called moai, from the resources. Over time, as the land became less productive, moai-building ceased and there's evidence of a backlash against the statues since many were toppled and even unmoved from the inner-island quarry. However, their ecosystem was forever affected by the abundant use of resources for the moais, and eventually the populated dwindled and probably suffered immensely.

I do several data warehouse assessments each year where I analyze programs from all perspectives and render analysis. If it's warranted, the assessment is critical. One program I have been involved with for years received a very harsh criticism of their program, with specific remedies. It was a funding sinkhole. You name it, they were doing it wrong. They took the advice and followed it to a 't'. They now have an effective program with hundreds of users accessing clean, timely, documented data in various reasonable manners of delivery. They have documented high ROI and fabulous quotes from the user community. With nice promotions all-around, they're now a candidate for a best practices competition.

I assessed another program about the same time. They weren't nearly as bad off and the assessment reflected that - more complimentary than critical. The program was stalled however and there were several areas they needed to work on. Upon receipt of said assessment, it was immediately stamped 'confidential' and buried in a drawer. A couple of years later, they are in a worse position than they were during the assessment. They continue to throw people at the problem, doing things in the same ways as always and generating the same, mediocre results. The staff still goes home at night without a sense of accomplishment. They've actually accustomed themselves to protecting the status quo and not expecting much. Meanwhile, executive pressure grows upon the program as their pole position in their industry is coming under serious challenges.

So why did this program bury the assessment? The answer is there were critical points in it that would have made team members look bad for a small handful of decisions. This program continues to utilize their resources in the same manner as before. They are headed for an eventual dark turn. This team wants to be able to tell upper management they've had an outside assessment and everything is fine. The reflection upon data warehousing itself then is poor and will worsen. I can see the executives saying "if this is good, then let's not do data warehousing at all."

The 'moral to the story' is that it is possible in data warehousing to have the foresight, sometimes with the help of a second set of experienced eyes, to avoid disaster and put your program on an excellent trajectory - but only if the advice is taken.

Posted March 22, 2006 12:31 PM
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