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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

September 2007 Archives

Leave it to Microsoft to make technology inexpensive and easy. Quite possibly (i.e., link) Office 14 will begin to include the Stratature Master Data Management (MDM) acquisiton. Microsoft has helped to demystify data warehousing and data mining and now begins to do the same with MDM.

For the MDM market, this is a partial verification and will expose MDM to a wider audience. Those who are opposed to Microsoft philosophically or don't believe it will scale will go elsewise for their tool.

Tools are a start, but can obfuscate the need to address data quality, still the largest impediment to information management success.

Technorati tags: MDM, Microsoft, Office 14, Stratature

Posted September 27, 2007 1:31 PM
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End clients generally end up overrating the usability of packaged data models, whether as stand-alone models or those models inherent in their software packages. Sooner or later, some amount of what I call ‘original data modeling’ is going to be necessary in any enterprise. Modeling expertise is a must-have though companies go to enormous lengths sometimes to avoid it. I don’t advocate necessarily changing packaged models in applications. However, no untouched application models, or combinations thereof, are going to be completely sufficient for a data warehouse in Fortune clients.

Technorati tags: data warehouse, data model

Posted September 26, 2007 7:09 PM
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Time for the Wednesday (or thereabouts) “What” (what I have learned…). OK, I seem to be endlessly prompted in my client work with these learnings so there’s no shortage of them, but sometimes I don’t have an elegant preamble to a blog entry. So, I’ll just say it.

You’ve got to tie that warehouse data back to source or users will cry foul. It doesn’t matter how dirty the source data is. If you want to change the data en route to the warehouse to clean it, fine, change it, but bring the original data as well in a different set of columns in order to prove your tie-out.

Tie-out should make you more comfortable with your ETL as well. It sometimes involves adding pre-extract queries to the source data and post-load queries to the warehouse data. It sometimes involves ‘spot’ query checks, which can get tricky. I.e., the method used to pick your spot data can come under scrutiny. It also gets tricky when the ETL is run intra-day or real-time, when ETL cycles are at an absolute premium. However, you still need to do it IMO. These tie-out results go in your operational metadata.

Tie-out is part of weaning users from their old ways to the new way (the data warehouse way). It’s part of the bottoms-up approach to a successful data warehouse rollout. Ask key users what they will use to deem the warehouse effort successful – and do that and more. Remember, users are from Missouri - the show-me state - and IT is from Mars (according to many users I have dealt with.) And if they don’t ask about tie-out, do it anyway!

Technorati tags: data warehouse, ETL

Posted September 20, 2007 7:32 AM
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Here's another "what I've learned." When we have a deadline or a business-critical issue, we can tend to underemphasize the business requirements, due diligence, experience and sometimes some spending that is going to be necessary.

One area, just to pick something out, is Dun&Bradstreet numbers. DNB is practically ubiquitous in my clientele yet it’s always harder to match than is initially believed. Another truth about DNB is that not every company has a DNB number. Plan for it!

I have a collection of data warehousing “famous last words.” Here’s one: “We’ll just link our customers to DNB tomorrow and it’ll be ready for you on Thursday.”

Posted September 11, 2007 7:22 AM
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Here’s one more on the theme of what I’ve learned. You’ve heard of Don’t Mess with Texas? Well, how about Don’t Mess with Excel!? Users love the sense of control over the data and the ability to perform their own calculations. (Other) BI tools will not sweep Excel out of any enterprise. However, precisely because of its flexibility, Excel is notorious as a source system for data warehousing and its applications need to get into a DBMS to serve the organization in that capacity.

DW teams often need to start as data providers to the organization, where knowledge workers from all over will pull for spreadsheets. Eventually, through value propositions (see previous ‘what I’ve learned’), those teams should increase their service to where they are providing BI and running the business, not just reporting on it. The Excel issue is a flashpoint for the whole ‘why do we exist’ issue for DW teams.

Technorati tags: data warehouse, Excel

Posted September 5, 2007 9:23 AM
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