Thursday, March 09, 2006

Total Cost of Ownership in a Data Warehouse

Even though it is a couple of years old, Ralph Kimball's piece on the cost of ownership and the focus on the end user.

Kimball's top 3 points are enough to delay or derail any data warehouse project:
  1. Data needed for decisions is unavailable
  2. Lack of partnership between IT and end users
  3. Lack of explicit end-user-focused cognitive and conceptual models
Number one is the big stumbling block state education agency folks face. The barriers between silos make it difficult to know what data is already available (or if available, the right to use the data may not be clear). Even in those areas in which data is available at the individual level (student assessment, special education, vocational programs, etc.), there may be no way to tie the data to other programs of interest since data for many programs is only collected at the aggregate level.

The second barrier is one that is begin overcome by the demands of NCLB. The requirements for testing all students, reporting on subgroups, etc. are pushing programs to share data and ask hard questions about impact and professional development payoffs. This sense of urgency to figure out what works, may be the most long-lasting impact of NCLB on educational systems.

The third barrier is one of sensemaking. How do those responsible for making program decisions make tough decisions? In the past, there has been very little dialogue between state-level program managers and regional service providers or local district staff. One of the specific goals of the Longitudinal Data System grants is to do needs assessment and requirements gathering from across all levels of the education enterprise.


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