JCK - A Veteran-Owned Small Business
EXCELLENCE IN DATA ARCHITECTURE

since 1989

America Support You
4348 Pine Grove Ave
Fort Gratiot MI USA
48059-3732
V: 810 982-8639
Data Architecture Facilitation

Decision Support System Design & Implementation

Systems Integration

Systems Development



What is User Focused Data Architecture?

Relax. Decision Support Systems aren't as bad as you might think.

Implementing a decision support system such as a data warehouse can be intimidating even for experienced developers. It's a different world, very little like a typical development cycle.

Rather than starting with fresh requirements and a new interface, DSS development means trying to work with data from at least one, and probably several, existing systems. There isn’t much coding, but there is a lot of data transfer and cleanup. Data structure is far more important than screen presentation. What coding there is exists merely to present the summarized data to the user.

And even then, clever coding tricks don’t help much if the requisite data is incomplete.  Or inaccurate.  Or not even there.

JCK consultants can help with that. We’ve had plenty of experience with decision support systems, and know how to attack a DSS project – and more importantly, how to coach your people through it.

We begin by working with the project owners to design the system using our BEAM DSS™ methodology. This zeroes in on the business events the users are interested in querying and helps design a system based on what the users want to know – not merely what is available.

Software projects fail at an alarming rate, and the statistics for data warehouse development projects aren't any better. In fact, one IT executive was asked, "Why have you built eight data warehouses? That seems like a lot." The executive's reply? "We had seven failures." Such failures are often the result of a breakdown at the requirements analysis level."
from Intelligent Enterprise
It also enables us to work with your users and technicians to map out an incremental implementation – both operationally and technically – which is how the experts recommend building a DSS.

Veteran developers know how important good design is to transactional systems. That’s doubly true with decision support systems. Here are just a few reasons why:
  • Merging data from different systems requires reconciling definitions. If one system tracks “clients” while another tracks “customers”, are these the same thing? Can you reasonably combine client and customer data, or is it a recipe for disaster? Technical tools can deal with things like data type conversion, but clarifying operational terms is something only the user can do during design.
  • The careful setup, data transfer ("extract, transform, & load"), calculations, and cube builds makes it very difficult to “just patch” a decision support system. If it isn’t designed properly, it’s going to cost a lot more to set right.
  • "Where did you get these numbers?" Traceability is vital in decision support. If you can’t substantiate your data integrity at every step, every result you publish is suspect. Which would you have to explain to an auditor: a set of well-structured tables with clear data definitions and a well documented load path? Or a jury-rigged set of scripts lashed together out of whatever was near to hand at the moment?
Good design makes all the difference. If you’re going to the expense of building a decision support system, take the time to design it properly. It’ll pay off in the long haul.
If you need, we can help your staff sift through your transactional databases to find the data that’s needed for the warehouse. Figuring out the contents of a strange database can be intimidating, but we do it all the time (there’s something about teaching database design that gives you an edge on reading data structures). We can help map the data you have to the structure you need, and build the scripts to load the warehouse and do the requisite calculations.

We can also show your staff how to monitor the warehouse load, with a complete audit trail that will tell them how well the load is working – and when it doesn’t, what’s wrong. We can even help set up the data presentation to the system users, if you need.

JCK has been designing and building decision support systems for over a decade. We can help you just as much as you need.