THREE OBJECTIONS TO DONE-FOR-YOU DATA WAREHOUSES
If your business has more than a few data sources, you need a data warehouse—it’s the foundation of actionable business intelligence. It’s the “single source of truth” behind all your reporting and strategic analysis.
When a company is considering using an external Done-For-You Data Warehouse provider instead of taking the DIY data warehouse approach, there are typically three main objections:
1. A fear of giving up ownership and control of the company’s data.
2. The ongoing costs of subscription fees from an outside provider.
3. And the difficulty in making changes in an established data warehouse.
It might come as a surprise to you that in reality, Done-For-You Data Warehouse solutions are actually more responsive to changes and client requests; more affordable in the short term and long term than a DIY approach; and more effective stewards of the important data that allows you to make smarter decisions.
Let’s unpack these three objections and the assumptions behind them.
OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL
It’s understandable that as a company owner, CEO, or executive, you are leery of outsourcing such an important part of your business.
When it comes to your data warehouse, you might have envisioned learning these skills yourself as part of your career path or putting together your own in-house dream team to handle it.
But what do ownership and control really look like in a DIY warehouse setup?
Right now, you might have someone you go to when you need numbers, results, and analytics from marketing, sales, and other metrics.
The reality is that it is a huge challenge to find someone who is truly qualified to run your data warehouse. And more than likely you need a full team with qualifications in different aspects of data management, reporting, and analytics.
These folks are expensive; we’re talking six-figure salaries. And these “thoroughbreds” are also very hard to retain. They relish the challenge of setting up a new data warehouse, which means they’ quickly get bored and look for new projects (at another company).
Now alternatively, consider Done-For-You data warehouses.
This solution streamlines the process and tools to make sure you get reports that reflect the reality of your business. No more worrying about technology. Instead, Done-For-You lets you focus on analytics and making better business decisions… which puts you upstream at the executive level where you should be.
Importantly, Done-For-You takes some of the hardest – and costliest – positions to staff, off your plate. As a DWaaS provider, we have highly qualified team members in place to help you craft the exact solution you need. Plus, once everything is built, we oversee your data and maintain the system.
With a Done-For-You solution in place, you can guarantee the lineage of data from its origin all the way through your system. This is not something you can often say with a slapped together DIY data warehouse.
If there are ever data issues, an external Done-For-You team has the expertise to fix the problem or make changes faster and more effectively than an in-house team. They’ll never get bored and leave you.
Another major fear felt by businesses looking at Done-For-You is the ongoing costs. You’re hesitant to be locked into one provider “forever.” You might think it’s much cheaper to just handle everything internally.
But the truth is that when you set up an in-house data warehouse, you are responsible for much more than the one-time costs of the software and hardware during the setup phase.
Simply put, it’s a myth that DIY is a one-time cost. You can’t build a system and then expect it to just run by itself in perpetuity.
The total cost of ownership for the DIY approach includes the price of hardware and software and then the people to maintain and run the system, including making changes and “repairs” as needed. When you do the math, it’s two to three times more expensive to go it alone than to use Done-For-You.
With Done-For-You, your provider already has the infrastructure in place. They handle the servers and software and any needed upgrades. And the costs are spread across multiple clients. This keeps “technical debt” (the cost of maintaining your data warehouse) low and predictable, especially relative to the ongoing costs that would be incurred by a DIY data warehouse approach.
One of the criticisms of any sort of data warehouse is that they are inflexible. The fact is that they are, by nature, rigid and hard to change because too much changeability would undermine the reliability of your data.
Changing your CRM or accounting software is a process, but that inflexibility can actually be a strength, not a weakness if you approach it with the right mindset
Here’s what makes the difference…
If you’re using the DIY approach, yes, you can just walk down the hall and tell your guy to make a change. But this can actually be dangerous. In many cases, the people running your analytics don’t have the proper experience and training. They’ve been applying logic at the report level, not the database level. Consequently, when the company needs to make a change in business logic, they have to remember every place they used that code.
As a result, they’ve built an inflexible/unscalable reporting platform where one seemingly innocuous change could bring the whole system crashing down.
In contrast, our Done-For-You Data Warehouse team at Xerva has made thousands of changes to data warehouse systems. This is their job, and they do it well because they are highly specialized. They are experts at defining business logic in centralized locations so when changes need to be made it can be done as quickly and safely as possible. The result is a smooth change/transition that is efficient and well documented.
They know what consequences changing one aspect of your data warehouse will have. In our experience, 99% of the time, internal teams don’t have that ability.
The key here is expertise and consistency. The Done-For-You support team is there ready to add new metrics and reports as you need them.
A change request doesn’t leave them scratching their heads as it might an in-house data warehouse manager. A Done-For-You Data Warehouse provider has tried and true systems and procedures – a complete environment – in place so they know how to move forward step-by-step. The result is fully-managed data warehouses that are actually quite flexible. That makes for a quick and error-free turnaround.
THE CLEAR WINNER IS DONE-FOR-YOU
It might seem logical that having a DIY data warehouse will cut your costs, allow you to maintain control, and make change management easier.
But in reality, Done-For-You data warehousing is a more cost-effective and efficient system that works for you 24/7. It can guarantee centralized, accurate, and timely data in a way that ad hoc internal systems or staff cannot.
A data warehouse, if utilized properly, is a living thing that must be constantly maintained, tested, and improved. A data warehouse is like a second set of eyes on your data and your business. It’s extremely important to your decision-making and to your overall business.
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Nate McMurtrey loves using data to solve business problems. He is a Business Intelligence expert, data warehouse wizard, and pioneer in Done-For-You data warehouse solutions. He has worked as a BI manager and freelance BI consultant. In 2014, he co-founded Xerva with Nate Allphin.