DW Connect: Close-Out

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We convened a Close-Out meeting for DW Connect and Third Party Billing projects. In attendance: Christopher, Rebecca, Sarah, Catalina, Missy and me. DW Connect is the name given to a collection of smaller projects that all query the data warehouse or leverage data from the Shadow database. Born as a four-alarm fire as we scrambled to extract EA data in order to perform essential tasks, DW Connect now, almost a year later, has cooled into a steady flow of data that spills onto reports and forms.

We treated the Third Party Billing Report as an off-shoot of DW Connect. Because:

  • It had a different set of stakeholders in Catalina and Missy.
  • It produced a final product that was external rather than internal.
  • It came with its own set of goals and objectives as declared in the Statement of Work.

What Worked

  • We did it! We completed all the work and met our objectives.
  • We maintained scope. Stakeholders had a good grasp of their needs and were able to articulate them in a way I could comprehend.
  • For not having a clear concept of the finished product or how to duplicate the data warehouse without confusing operations, we developed a good final product.
  • We spread the gospel of Project Management to two more LAC staff.
  • Our communication methods worked well - emails, calls, chats and Apple Remote Desktop.

What We Could Have Done Better

  • Communication frequency could have been improved - at least once Missy had to ask the status of the project.
  • We ought to have included the Institutional Relations team at the start of the Third Party Billing project. While it wouldn't have changed direction or scope, it may have helped set expectations and educate them on what's possible.
  • We continue to struggle with concluding projects in a timely manner. That may be a function of the next failing:
  • We didn't assign a person with "skin in the game" the role of project manager. The very people who had vested interest in seeing it through were outside looking in. That said, we don't have a stable of project managers, and the majority of staff don't have training in project management principles.

Looking Ahead

There are no related projects waiting in the wings. Instead, opportunities for growth lie in training existing staff to use the Shadow Database more effectively. We will continue to add reports, routines and small queries of additional data.

The downside of our success is our product shares data too easily. As more systems and processes hook into the Shadow Database, our challenge will be:

  • make sure other systems honor the privacy of the data and follow proper guidelines.
  • control access so that ability to alter data rests with those who are trained and understand its interdependencies
  • prevent users from aggregating data for historical reports. LAC and ES own the data and business rules around it.

A future enhancement to the Third Party Billing report is to build an institutional relations database to store the business logic that's currently contained in Catalina's brain and an increasingly complex Excel spreadsheet.


DW Connect: 152 hours since March 31, 2010.
Third Party Billing: 40 hours since June 15, 2010.

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Congratulations to all who worked on the project! Soni - great work following your project management principles, tenacity in working with LAC and IMS to understand the table and data sets, and elegant, yet functional development practices used to build a great tool.

Good distillation of the meeting discussion. I particularly appreciate the remarks about looking ahead to managing sharing and access of data - definitely something of which we will need to be conscious.