Advisory and Staff Development Services

Sometimes all you need is an experienced, knowledgeable person to help you set direction, get over the rough spots or provide data points that you may not be aware of to help you make the right decisions.

Someone that, when you pick up the phone, already knows your business, your program, your problems and helps you rather than sells to you. Someone who you can speak frankly with and is on your side. Someone who will provide knowledge to your staff and fills your gaps.

We have a model for advisory and staff development that we have successfully used over the years, always with high degrees of success.

With this service, we can advise on, among other items, for any data warehouse, business intelligence, analytics, master data management or big data project:

  • Guiding principles
  • Staffing Organization
  • Project Planning
  • Architecture Development
  • Data Models
  • Tool Selection
  • Data Integration Design and Strategy
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Business Requirements
  • Status Reporting
  • Management Buy-in
  • Vendor and Consulting Engagement
  • Change Control
  • Documentation Requirements
  • Testing and QA Planning
  • Metadata Planning
  • SCRUM and Agile Adoption
  • User Training
  • Iteration Planning
  • Support Planning

We can be very visible within the project team, management and user community or provide this as a personal service to an information management leader. If you’ve played these roles, but not for the type of information project you now face, you need more than training. You need experience. That’s where we come in.

We’ve been in your shoes and we’ve been successful. We understand the politics, the pressure, the business ramifications and the tradeoffs within a data warehouse program as well as the technology and techniques. We’re aware of the traps and trepidations that await – and how to overcome them. Working with McKnight a program advisor to an information management initiative can pay tremendous dividends.

A McKnight advisor will challenge and teach throughout the life cycle, from requirements through the early stages of production. The advisor could also fill gaps as required in producing deliverables for the project. Advisement is distinguished from other forms of consultancy such as requirements gathering or other early-stage steps in a project that focus resources on a specific delivery. Although Advisory may begin with a Strategy for the program, it is distinguished from a Strategy or other point-in-time engagement by its ongoing nature.

Programs under quality advisement tend to avoid the usual slew of failure points– overscoped projects, incorrectly sponsored projects, failure to set and adhere to guiding principles, focus on technology – not business ROI, non-scalable architectures, lack of business involvement and inadequate team experience in delivering projects of this nature.

An advisor can assist with many aspects of a program. Commonly treated as afterthoughts, these areas are necessary components of a program. These include guiding principles, readiness assessments, architecture specifications, meta data strategies, user management processes, data quality processes, security processes, data source analysis, conceptual modeling, testing procedures, customer boarding and training specification, customer support model specification, maintenance planning and support readiness assessment.

Programs with quality staff but lacking real-world experience are well-served to rent the experience by utilizing an advisor. Large studies have found lack of experience to be one of the top reasons for project failure. Advisement helps mitigate this risk by seeding experience onto the team.

Furthermore, quality advisement will review all interim deliverables throughout the project. It is paramount to a successful advisement that it is not meant to just deliver paper. The build team should be prepared to react to feedback and iterate the deliverables until the concerns are met. The advisor should review the project plan, the organization, the user requirements, the data model, the source-target map, the data quality plan, technology planning and purchase orders, applications and reporting/user interface specifications.

Our advisors will provide expected and unexpected advisement. Advisors who only parrot what the client is expecting to hear and do not provide unique insight into the program are not very valuable. Far too many projects go awry because the build team is unable to deliver to expectations and the tough messages on the need for proper scoping, prioritization and business involvement. When these items are bypassed, it always comes back to haunt the project.

Clearly, an advisor needs to be flexible and well-rounded to provide advice in all areas, including technology, process, people and business issues. These components will come together to form a cohesive whole and should be considered as such by the advisor. “Advisement by committee” is not recommended. Having end-to-end experience at the project or technical lead or advisory level with numerous, similar projects is paramount to advisory success.

An advisor also needs to be able to step back and allow the client to perform all manner of the work possible. Advisors should be somewhat flexible with their methodology – understanding the battles worth fighting and those not worth fighting – keeping the end goal in mind.

An advisor can be more objective than an internal or consulting group manager and, while sensitive to the political situation of the client, can be more dispassionate and provide the right advice around tradeoffs to make for a fast and lasting return on investment. By knowing the program intimately, the advisor is ready to respond to any program question without having to start at square one. An advisor can also help transfer internal program responsibility when required.

For organizations that are not prone to outsource entire projects, advisement is a perfect opportunity to get the outside advice that remains loyal to the approach of building systems in house. McKnight advisors also can be involved in programs that are completely or largely assigned to “big” consultancies. Our advisors become the client advocate with oversight authority over the consultancy.

A successful engagement includes the advisor in weekly team calls and on all team messages and deliverables. Separate, private semiweekly discussions with the project leader also create opportunities to surface issues that are immediate or on the horizon.