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The Inseparables: Data Warehousing and Scrum


In spite of a simple, elegant and straight forward explanation of scrum at http://www.scrum.org/storage/scrumguides/Scrum_Guide.pdf, I continue to see so many professionals  talking and writing so much about scrum in so many forums without it making any sense to anybody. Everyone just goes for a certificate and there is no dearth of certified instructors to meet that demand.

Some of the leaders of scrum in the industry have whispered this over and over again: Scrum is only for young people. I must qualify it as “for young-at-heart people”.

And as per the scrum guide I quoted above: “Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.”

It is true that only young-at-heart people can go for transparency->inspection->adaptation.

Why do so many data warehousing projects fail? The straight forward answer is: because they don’t follow scrum. Yes, contrary to the popular belief that scrum is for regular software development projects, scrum is most pertinent for the data-warehousing projects. I refuse to listen to all those executives, who have been trying hard to cover up their data warehousing failures by emphasizing that data warehousing is unique, you can’t follow scrum because data warehousing is a huge-lifecycle project, scrum is about customer-deliverables and data-warehousing will take a long time before customers get a taste of it.

Data-Warehousing attempts to bring a unified picture of company’s business strategy and company’s data. When there is no real business strategy, nobody dares to accept it and the project fails. When there was no thought given to data in the first place and it was all done to mitigate a moment’s pain, data-warehousing will not be able integrate the data; it will fail. Most of the data warehousing projects fail because:

  1. They don’t follow scrum; they are not transparent. How can they be when different departments of the company don’t even talk to each other?
  2. They don’t follow scrum; they don’t welcome inspection. Of course not J
  3. They don’t follow scrum; they are not adaptable. Even if one department tries to adapt, the others will knock it down, isn’t it?

Data warehousing failures are a litmus test of the company’s overall health. There is no real successful company that doesn’t have a successful data-warehousing.

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