The fourth and final part of the series on the challenges of data integration is about data governance. Data governance is not so much a challenge as it is a critical component of continued success. Data integration is usually only the Band-Aid that is applied to a particular business problem. Beyond that it has the power to transform a business, but to do so you need to continuously guard, monitor, analyse, and improve your data and related business processes, so that the information you glean from it is always sound.
The third part of the four-part series on the challenges of data integration deals with people. I have already hinted at a few people issues in the first and second parts on technical and project management challenges, respectively, but I have not gone into specifics.
Where people work together there will be conflicts. As we shall see, data integration projects can be particularly tricky, as they require dirty data to be ‘smuggled’ over organizational borders into enemy territory.
In this second post of a four-part series on the challenges of data integration I want to talk about project management. Data integration is, as I have said before, not simply a matter of throwing technical people at a business problem. Not literally of course: most people do not like being flung at things, abstract or concrete, but probably at the latter a bit less than at the former.
Project management is the key to your success. Sure, you need able people to build the data warehouse, but without a solid foundation in project management your project will tip over at the slightest sigh. And please take it from someone who has been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and has outgrown it: there will be a lot of sighs during the project, even full-blown tornadoes… To weather any storm, you and the entire organization have to live project management practices. Project management is not the silver bullet, but it can protect you against the most common enemies: no idea, no plan, no back-up plan, and no support.
Data integration is a formidable challenge. For one, data integration is never the goal of an organization. Similarly, a data warehouse is never the objective. It is merely a vehicle that can drive you to your destination. Data storage and integration for data’s sake are a waste of time, money, resources, and nerves. Without a clear business case, effective leadership, and strong support, including but not limited to a highly visible and respected sponsor, any data integration project is doomed from the get-go.