BI/DWH Resources – Where to look for what

If there is one question I have been asked more often that any other in my professional career it is: “Where can I learn more about BI/DWH”? So here goes – these are my recommendations, feel free to add yours!

Books:

There are quite a few choices here, but I have consciously avoided any vendor-specific books and have tried to incorporate a selection that encompasses the entire gamut of the BI space

1. The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit by Kimball, Reeves, Ross & Thorhthwaite
2. Building The Data Warehouse by Bill Inmon
3. Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle for Decision-Support Applications By Larissa T. Moss, Shaku Atre
4. Business Intelligence: The Savvy Managers Guide
5. Competing on analytics by Thomas H. Davenport
6. Information Dashboard Design – Stephen Few
7. “The Mythical Man Month” by Frederick Brooks.
8. Mastering Data Warehouse Design: Relational and Dimensional Techniques – Claudia Imhoff
9. Building a BI Architecture fit for the 21st Century – Jon Page
10. “Agile Data Warehousing” by Ralph Hughes

Websites:

I am sure many may disagree with me, but these are the sites I use most often (in no particular order)

1. BI Network
2. TDWI 
3. ITToolbox for DWH and ITToolbox for BI
4. DM Review
5. Kimball
6. Intelligent Enterprise
7. BI
8. DW infocenter

White Papers and others:

Daniel Lemire

While these are good as guides and references, nothing can replace someone actually sitting with you for some time and walking you through an introduction, provided you follow up by actually working on a project to implement what you have learnt

Have a good day!

Objective Recruitment for BI-DW positions

We are in a people-driven industry. Very simplistically put, if you get the right set of people, you tend to do well. Getting good people generally puts the other aspects – process, communication gaps, technology challenges, motivation etc. – right. On the other hand, if you don’t get the right person, well, you are often in for a tough time.

The problem is usually exacerbated in the BI situation. The right person not only has to have the right soft skills – communication, attitude etc. – but also has to the veritable master of all trades in the BI space. My first boss used to tell us his mantra about recruitment; one that I have since religiously followed: “When in doubt – reject”. Unfortunately, the reject count kept adding up and positions remained empty. That is when I went back to the drawing board and tried to draw up picture of the kind of person I really needed, in an objective fashion. I call this Objective Recruitment.

Most people we look for have to have a combination of skills including:
• DWH/BI/Analytics Concepts
• DB Skills
• Functional expertise (banking, healthcare etc.)
• Domain Skills (CDI, PIM, EPM etc.)
• Subject Area skills (modeling, ETL, reporting, dashboarding etc.)
• Tool Skills (MSTR, BO, Cognos etc.)
• Tool Module skills (Narrowcast server, Report Architect, Report Developer etc.)

Trust me, you are not going to find someone who meets your expectations in all of the above – pigs do not fly and Usain Bolt does not run marathons. The first step in Objective Recruitment is to prioritize the criteria above based on your needs. Based on the ranking, you need to arrive at “cut-off marks” for each criterion. Then, what you are really assessing is” Is the person I am trying to recruit meeting the lower threshold in each criterion. If (s)he is, then (s)he is suitable! Simple!

I use the following table to arrive at cut-offs – but I am flexible as well!

And this is a sample mapping I made recently for a position we had to close:

Note that I have increased the cut-off for DB skills for this role as I felt it was important that the person be able to stand alone on the DB space, if required. Suddenly, people I felt might not be suitable seemed to be more than competent!

Try Objective Recruitment! It helps!