There are three facets in data management.
- Assembling the data into a central repository
- Processing the data into meaningful information and insights
- Dispersing the information to the right people
Large companies have a problem with their data management that is inherent to their size. They organically fragment their working business units to smaller manageable pieces. By and large, this is a good strategy for any large system. However, it brings about its own set of challenges, especially in data management.
- Data was independently generated in individual fragmented Business Units. Each business unit did not coordinate with sister business units for data harmonization
- There was no true central repository for data, and hence there was very limited scope for true Business Intelligence
- Employees belonging to one business unit had to go through a long process of approvals and software development process to access/provision data from another business unit.
- There was a lack of a central single-version-of-truth
Building an enterprise data warehouse was obviously the solution. But the biggest challenge is provisioning all the silo-ed user base with access to the right data from the central repository.
A Solid Roadmap
Given the size and scope of this project, we partnered with the end-user community to come up with a strategic roadmap for Business Intelligence. This was not going to be a one-and-done project, instead one that spans over a period of several years. The roadmap laid out the several phases to the project, along with many deliverables, over a span of 5 years.
Enterprise Data Warehouse
The choice of software and tools was a pivotal decision at the onset of the project. Once it was decided that SAP BW and SAP BusinessObjects would form the basis of this implementation, the rest of the roadmap was set in motion. We designed the ETL framework and EDW model that was specifically for that first phase, but one whose design supported the remaining phases.
Enterprise Reporting and Business Intelligence
There was a total of 8 business units selected for the initial BI deployment, of which two were chosen for the first phase – HR and Supply Chain. Each sub-organization under HR had their own version of one or more reporting systems prior to this project. Each had its merits and shortcomings. One of the challenges was that the same data was sliced and diced different by each sub-unit. The challenge was to design a single data warehouse to house the same data that can be viewed in a variety of ways, without having to replicate the same data multiple times. To achieve this, our consultants designed and developed a Reporting Engine within SAP-BW’s OLAP processor’s framework, that slices and dices data in a wide variety of ways.
Mechanized Data Disbursement
Based on interviews with the client organizations, one requirement that emerged repeatedly was mechanized data disbursement. Every organization required processed or summarized data to be transmitted over to another application in either a schedule with a certain frequency or upon request.
Out of the box, SAP-BW does provide a basic framework for data disbursement. But the sheer volume and complexity involved required us to design and develop a full-scale mechanized data disbursement platform within SAP-BW’s framework.
Data Access and Security
One of the main challenges of a centralized data repository or Enterprise Data Warehouse is managing user-access and putting controls and processes to enable data security. Amick Brown developed a custom user-access provisioning and data authorizations module into the EDW, that enabled the administrators to provision and authorize using a web-gui based front-end. Built into this application was general authorization reporting and audit trails.
The benefits of a centralized data repository and reporting system far outweighs the drawbacks. However, the drawbacks need to be mitigated by means of solid planning and meticulous execution. We bring our experience in building data warehouses with a wide variety of customers who each have their unique set of challenges. When you partner with us to build your data warehousing system, you can expect a quality product executed to perfection.
Amick Brown is your strategic partner. While success is often tied to short term problem mitigation, we understand that real success is measured by the long-term ROI. For this company, we crafted a solution that included short-term quick-wins that mitigated the current issues, but we also set the foundation upon which a true Enterprise Business Intelligence platform can be founded.