How to estimate DW project cost and duration

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How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  taklumbo on Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:32 am

Hi all.

I'm in charge of a DW project. Top management and business people understand the importance of it, so I have their support. However, I have to provide estimated investment and maintenance cost, human resources needed and time to completion, which are things that really matter to Management.

I've read The DW Lifecycle Toolkit, but these topics are not well covered. What is the correct approach to get these estimates?

Thanks,

Tak Ng

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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  BoxesAndLines on Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:22 pm

The data warehouse isn't a project. It is ongoing expense from the moment you start it until you discard. It must be kept in sync as the business information changes. I would not try to estimate the time to completion as it will never be completed unless your business does not change. What you can reliably estimate is the amount of time to roll out reporting. The first few marts will take longer as you develop the infrastructure required to support data warehouse activities (modeling standards, etl standards, documentation standards, etc). Once these are in place I like to size projects at 3-4 month iterations. One of your first hires should be the project manager that can guide you throught the steps of developing the project plan.
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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  taklumbo on Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:03 pm

Kimball says "... at this early stage, even the costs can present challenges given all the inherent uncertainties surrounding the project. At this point, you're just trying to determine ballpark figures".

However, if I present a "ballpark figure", the approved budget might not be enough. The cost of the initial investment varies from vendor to vendor.

In the Lifecycle Toolkit, it is in the architecture phase when the tools and platforms are selected. It is like the egg and chicken problem. The requirement, the team and the architecture must be in place to do the selection, but the cost has to be provided upfront.

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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  John Simon on Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:41 am

A Data Warehouse not a project - it's a programme, and should be funded as such i.e. an ongoing expense.

You cannot estimate time to completion and costs until you know what you have to deliver. Get an operating budget and run Agile projects from that budget.

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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  hang on Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:27 am

I guess it really depends on how well the subject area are defined and implemented in the source OLTP system. If it is riddled with all sorts of data quality issues and bad ER modeling, your DW team might need to prepare to spend all the estimated fund just to build a reasonably functional ODS before even attempting to set up dimensional data store for BI deliveries.

Let's assume you have reasonable OLTP system and all the data sources are in good shape. I would guess for a ballpark figure of a few hundreds of grand up to 1 million on 6 months timeframe for a decent size of subject area. The most effective team size would be initially 5-10 DW professionals. Adding more people above that level will not shorten the development, if it's a brand new DW/BI project. The end product would be a dozen of cube presentation plus a suit of canned reports that will really demonstrate the value of your initial delivery.

Since your company is so keen to know the estimate, my feeling is any continuing investment will depend on how well the initial 6 months delivery meets users' expectation. So it's crucial to get right bunch of people to nail the first delivery, if you want to secure further investment for the long time to come on the DW journey.

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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  Mike Honey on Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:51 pm

John Simon wrote:A Data Warehouse not a project - it's a programme, and should be funded as such i.e. an ongoing expense.

You cannot estimate time to completion and costs until you know what you have to deliver. Get an operating budget and run Agile projects from that budget.
I think John is spot on ... Like!
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Re: How to estimate DW project cost and duration

Post  ngalemmo on Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:39 am

Mike Honey wrote:
John Simon wrote:A Data Warehouse not a project - it's a programme, and should be funded as such i.e. an ongoing expense.

You cannot estimate time to completion and costs until you know what you have to deliver. Get an operating budget and run Agile projects from that budget.
I think John is spot on ... Like!

Yes, except he misspelt 'program'. : )
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