How to Design and Document a Dimensional Model 447 in Software

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18 How to Design and Document a Dimensional Model 447
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3. Perform a detailed walkthrough of the dimension design. 4. Perform a detailed walkthrough of fact table design. This review is usually best performed in presentation format. It also helps if all participants have hard copies of the materials. The elements to be discussed in each of these areas are discussed in the Top-Level Design Documentation section later in this chapter. For some participants, the review may represent their first encounter with dimensional design; allow for some education along the way. In addition to establishing buy-in from all quarters, the review process tests the model for completeness and helps the team identify relative complexity of the various components. This last piece will aid in the process of prioritizing implementation plans.
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Prioritizing Plans
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While it makes sense to conduct dimensional modeling efforts with enterprise-wide scope, implementation works best when done incrementally. The prioritization tasks produce an implementation strategy or roadmap. This effort requires subdividing the dimensional model into candidate projects, estimating their complexity, and establishing priorities. It is strategic in nature and requires the involvement of decision makers with the authority to establish strategy and the leadership to ensure implementation. The prioritization stage is noted as optional in Figure 18-1, in deference to the variety of architectures and project methodologies. Notice, however, that prioritization activities are not limited to projects of enterprise scope. A large subject area may also be broken up for incremental implementation. When the design effort is part of a smaller project that is focused on a specific implementation, these activities may not be omitted.
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Identifying Candidate Projects
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The dimensional design serves as the basis for defining project scope. Projects are defined according to the stars that will be implemented. This communicates scope in two key dimensions: business capabilities and implementation complexity. Each of these perspectives is essential in prioritizing projects. Business objectives often dictate the scope of implementation projects. These objectives can be mapped to the areas of the dimensional model that support them, establishing the scope of implementation projects. When business priorities are not clear, the project team can subdivide the model in accordance with major business processes. The team may take into account available implementation resources to further subdivide implementation plans within a subject area. The implementation complexity of each project is influenced by a variety of factors. These include: The number of new dimension tables that must be built The number of new fact tables that must be built The number of source systems involved Expected data volumes
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Part VI
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PART VI
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Tools and Documentation
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These high-level indicators of complexity can be further decomposed. For a dimension table, complexity is further influenced by: The need to reconcile information from multiple sources The complexity of processing rules The degree of slow change processing required The need to implement core and custom versions The number of conformed replicas and rollups The presence of behavioral attributes The use of snowflaking or outriggers The presence of bridge tables The availability of changed data identification mechanisms Similar factors contribute to fact table complexity: The number of source systems that provide facts to the fact table The need to construct snapshots from transaction data The complexity of logic required to construct accumulating snapshots, and the number of stars from which they are derived The quantity and nature of derived and aggregate tables These and other factors of complexity are visible as part of the dimensional design documentation, which is described in detail later in this chapter. The high-level design brings these factors to the fore; the detailed design provides more specific information. Factors like these may be further influenced by analytic solutions already in place. Development of core and custom product dimensions, for example, may be complicated by the presence of an existing product table that focuses on only one category. Changing the way an existing table handles slowly changing dimensions may influence existing stars and reports. Bringing two incompatible dimensions into conformance may require the reassignment of keys. These examples may all have ripple effects on previously existing stars and reports, making these modifications akin to replacing a bridge while traffic is driving across it. Using this information, the project team works with the designated project planners to develop a high-level assessment of project durations and resource requirements. This group may include project managers, IT management, lead architects, and developers with expert skills in the target implementation toolset. Your organization may opt for very broad-brush assessments or choose to provide a more detailed assessment through the development of individual project plans. The output of this estimation task will be used by decision makers to set priorities.
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