Sunday, May 16, 2010

Data Warehousing: The Agile Method

One of the more insightful sessions I attended at TDWI's 2010 World Conference in Chicago covered the topic of development methodology. In this case, the presenter recommended that we basically forget everything we know about the software development process and consider a new way of doing things.

Listening to what was described during this day long session, I came to realize that the way I had been doing things already had a name: the agile method. In fact, the presenter (Ralph Hughes) had already written a book about it titled "Agile Data Warehousing".

Rather than approaching development as an overly bureaucratic and planned out process, the agile method suggests that we drop the burden of extensive planning and focus on delivering smaller and more frequent deliverables. By following the agile method, we can approach a more ideal solution while providing small and useful pieces each step of the way.

For example, I have been involved in projects previously where the planning process was so painstaking and overbearing that the project never actually got off the ground. Instead of putting our heads down and getting to work, our heads were up in the clouds creating plans and contingencies for mitigating risk should plans not go as intended. Instead, by the agile method, some smaller piece (like a single dashboard or report) is selected for development, and this piece is developed as though the final deadline for the entire project lie just around the corner.

It's an exciting environment to work in, and it puts aside a lot of the fiscal concerns of project costs, as within weeks of kicking off a new project, something of value is delivered and implemented for end users.

If you're interested in learning more, click the image of the cover to order the book from Amazon's website. And for a quick overview of the best practices for agile method development, take a look here.

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