10 big takeaways from one interview with the Lawrence Corr, the BEAM Man

by | Mar 17, 2015

Source: OptimalBI images

I wear many hats at OptimalBI. I do the organising for our BEAM✲ workshops and I’m very excited to do the organising for the Agile Data Warehouse Design Workshop presented by Lawrence Corr, you can book your own place here.
I’ve emailed Lawrence and tweeted with him, so I decided to have a look around the internet to see if I what I could find out about this guy I’m looking forward to meet.
This interview on TDWI which really gives an insight into how Lawrence Corr thinks and what he is about.
These were my biggest takeaways:

  1. Agile BI should be about ‘the early, frequent, and sustainable delivery of data in a format that provides valuable business insight’, this is different but in line with Agile as a methodology for software development which emphasises the delivery of working software to the business. Yes, it is all about the business.
  2. The iterative approach of Agile fits well with the iterative nature of business intelligence development. Nobody knows all the answers at the start.
  3. An Agile BI team needs Agile stakeholders. Agile BI works best when everybody buys in.
  4. The Agile Manifesto emphasised “customer collaboration, face-to-face communication, and users and developers working together”. These equally apply to delivering a successful data warehouse project. The lessons of software development can be applied elsewhere.
  5. The team needs to be working in an Agile way from the beginning. Trying to become Agile ‘later’ is very difficult. Be Agile today, don’t promise to be Agile tomorrow it’s always a day away.
  6. The BI Team needs to data model with business people, this isn’t optional. The key is to make it systematic, visual, interactive and fun. Yes, he said ‘fun’.
  7. Data modelers need to learn from business analysts and business analysts need to learn from data modelers. Neither need to become experts in the other field, ‘just enough’ is good enough.
  8. Stealing ideas from linguistics and using simple tools like flipcharts, whiteboards, sticky notes, and spreadsheets is good because it means modelers, business analysts and business users can participate.
  9. The more we model the more we will understand.
  10. All this is going to get very interesting when Agile BI needs to define ‘BI requirements in advance of source data’. Yes, he said that.

Who Lawrence Corr, the BEAM Man?. You can find out all about him at Decision One his own site. The structure of Who, What, When & Where, Why and How draws from the structure of his book ‘Agile Data Warehouse Design: Collaborative Dimensional Modeling, from Whiteboard to Star Schema’ co-authored with Jim Stagnitto.
Lawrence Corr has worked in business intelligence, decision support and information management since 1996. He has worked across fields such as engineering, retail, financial services and e-commerce in pretty much every region in the Northern Hemisphere. The ‘data business’ is everybody’s business. There is everything that people do at scale which generates data that is useful for doing that thing better.
In 2000 Lawrence Corr was invited by Ralph Kimball to teach at Kimball University. I’ll leave it to others to debate the rights and wrongs of Kimball’s approach to data warehouse design but I’m going to hazard a guess that if you have made it this far in this blog you will know of or have read the The Data Warehouse Toolkit, now in it’s third edition.
OptimalBI is excited to be hosting Lawrence Corr when he comes to Wellington, find out more here.
Success is preparation meets opportunity – Jack
You can book your place on the next Data Driven Requirements Gathering Course here.

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