by Burleson Consulting
The Data Warehouse Development Life Cycle
The Project Delivery Schedule
In order to accelerate the delivery times for a
data warehouse project, a Project Evaluation and Review Technique
(PERT) chart or a Critical Path Method (CPM) chart must be developed
to identify those tasks that fall onto the critical path for the
system. PERT was developed in the 1960s by the U.S. Navy to manage
their Polaris submarine projects. Both PERT and CPM involve
identifying tasks that fall onto the critical path for a system. A
critical path task is a task for which there is no slack time.
Hence, if the critical path task is delayed, the delivery time for
the entire project is delayed. Conversely, if the delivery time for
the critical path task is accelerated, then the delivery of the
entire project is faster. It is a critical management skill for the
data warehouse project manager to constantly identify those task
that lie on the critical path.
As time is reported after development is underway, data warehouse
managers may see that the critical path changes. It is not uncommon
to misjudge time estimates for tasks, especially when the project
involves a new technology. A project manager must be diligent in
identifying tasks on the critical path. The second component
involves identifying the necessary skill sets for each task.
Remember, at any given time, there will only be a few tasks that lie
on the critical path. The rest of the tasks have slack time and can
be delayed without affecting the overall project delivery time.
Consequently, managers can usually re-allocate resources away from
non-critical tasks to critical tasks, thereby crashing the task on
the critical path and speeding the delivery of the overall system.
Of course, there are limitations. Consider the old adage: If one
woman can have a baby in nine months, nine women should be able to
have a baby in one month. There comes a time in every development
project where we see a diminishing rate of return when adding
resources, and it is indeed true that “too many cooks spoil he
broth.” The key for the successful data warehouse project manager is
determining when the point of diminishing return has been reached.
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