Chapter 29

Data Integration Methods

If 98% of the metrics are right, why worry about the other 3%?

—Anonymous

At every conference or workshop on Balanced Scorecards or operational and performance dashboards, I hear stories about organizations that have wasted large sums of money by purchasing a large Business Intelligence system before they fully understand how much information they need to harvest, analyze, and distribute.

The consensus among Balanced Scorecard consultants is that it makes sense to start simply, by entering data manually or linking worksheets to text files or simple relational databases. Operational and performance dashboards that have static requirements, with data that is not refreshed continuously, can also use simple data integration methods to produce great results.

Small- to midsized businesses and IT departments of large corporations usually do not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars and extensive resources necessary to implement a Business Intelligence system. In those cases, using Excel with data integration is a cost-effective solution. When expansion is needed, many midsized corporations do a great job with SQL relational databases or OLAP cubes combined with well-designed Excel dashboards.

Should You Use Manual Data Entry or Automated Data Integration?

Surveys of large corporations with Business Intelligence systems show that most scorecards or operational dashboards use six or seven different data sources. These are organizations with enterprise-wide ...

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