In a recent conversation with an executive from a leading client reporting provider, the discussion turned to Ed Bolles' latest blog on the subject "Data Tax." The executive revealed that they frequently experience a drag of at least 25% on their projects due to data issues. The conversation highlighted an interesting tension that every investment manager must face when embarking on client communications and sales enablement projects – how do you identify and address looming data pitfalls and sinkholes without overly delaying the delivery of business benefit?
Increasingly, Olmstead's clients and vendor partners recognize the importance of getting their data house in order, but balancing this against project budget and timeline realities presents a challenge. Arguing to add a data project to the front-end of an approved reporting project is not desirable. Even if the importance of data readiness is widely appreciated and accepted, delaying the reporting project while the data project progresses means delaying business impact.
At the risk of oversimplifying, Olmstead finds that these projects typically take one of two trajectories: the “let’s get started now” route, also known as the beg-for-forgiveness approach, and the “let’s fix our data platform first” path which is often derided by the business as the “there go the IT guys over-engineering our business project again." Far too often, the outcome of these projects is cost overruns, an overly tactical implementation, and/or deferred benefits.
So, what to do? Olmstead sees a third way; a way that engineers out the serial nature of the data readiness and reporting efforts and introduces a degree of parallelism between the two. The reality is that the needs of the reporting and communications vendors have become well established – the data required, the format of that data, how the data should be pivoted, etc. In essence, the design of the required reporting “mart” is largely known at the project outset. With this insight, Olmstead has gained a basis upon which to organize a project where reporting design and development can be initiated concurrently with data preparation and remediation.
Olmstead has taken this insight and invested in a suite of implementation accelerators that speed up time-to-value, while simultaneously reducing the risk that edge cases will cause cost overruns and delays. We’ve taken the experience gained from over a decade supporting client reporting implementations, incorporated how to best leverage modern Agile, cloud, and ELT approaches, and designed an approach that meets the challenge. The foundation of our approach is a set of ~50 interdependent data services that together satisfy the vast majority of data requests required by the vendors. Taken together, we have an approach that structures client communications projects so that the “let’s get started now” and the “let’s fix the data platform first” approaches become complementary.
In revisiting the question posed at the outset; how can investment managers address data issues without material delays in delivering business value? Olmstead believes there is a better way, a way that shortens time to go-live, de-risks the project, and elevates overall quality by helping to create a platform for growth.
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