Data Analysis for Business Analysts: Data Management Body of Knowledge

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Business Analysts rely on input from a subject matter expert (SME) to help complete scoping and requirements documents. This simple truth is the reason ModernAnalyst has asked me to share an overview of the Data Management Association Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBOK). The purpose of the article is not to teach you data management, but to provide you with a general understanding of building blocks of the practice. It will describe the breadth of subjects that data management professionals may be able to address.

The BABOK includes data modeling in order for a BA to document data requirements; this overlaps with the skills a data management professional needs to do data development. It is an obvious point of collaboration. When we examine all of the facets in data management, you may find other opportunities for leverage.

If you can recognize requirements that indicate impacts to the data environment early in your project, you can draw on other resources more effectively. I have provided some sample ‘red flags’ to illustrate requirements that might benefit from collaboration with a data management professional.

I suggest you develop your own list with the data management professionals at your organization; it will become helpful tool for you to know when to include them.

Background

You will be better prepared to engage your data management colleagues if you understand the history of their profession. 

Early 1970’s

The practice evolved as a separate area of “data processing”. It proposed data as a resource with more value to the enterprise when shared across multiple systems. ER Modeling was proposed in a groundbreaking 1971 paper by Michael Chen. Toronto started the IRMAC organization (Information Resource Management Association of Canada)
Early 1980’s Local organizations of data management professionals began forming in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York, and Washington D.C.
End 1980’s Data Management Association International (DAMA-I) was founded to provide coordination between the affiliated chapters worldwide.
1993           DAMA-I worked with the Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) to identify the knowledgebase for data management in certification examinations for the Certified Computing Professional (CCP) designation.
2004 The two organizations entered an agreement to develop an independently administered certification examination with the “Certified Data Management Professional” (CDMP) designation for individuals specializing in data and information management. The first CDMP exam was offered, providing a syllabus of resources that could be considered a minimum set of standard best practices.

Every year since 1989, the DAMA-I has sponsored an annual conference in the United States, and other major annual conferences in Australia and Europe to bring these individuals together building the community and providing training on data-specific topics, techniques, and technologies.

In 2005 a visioning meeting on a Body of Knowledge (BOK) for Data Management was held in DAMA Chicago chapter. Starting in 2007, DAMA I established a special team to develop a more complete reference that consolidates our best practices, the DAMA-DMBOK. In late 2007 I had the privilege of contributing to selected chapters. In August of 2008 I became an active member of DAMA-DMBOK Editorial board. This international effort has an anticipated publication date for the English version in 2009. As of November 2008, the BOK has had the participation of more than 180 data management professionals as major contributors and/or reviewers. Because this BOK has grown directly from membership input, it combines many enterprise learnings and approaches.

The DAMA-DMBOK does not suggest organizational structures to deliver data management, but does suggest the various roles that are needed in the various data management functions. Your organization may call these DAMA-DMBOK functions by different names and may customize them for your industry and environment.  

DAMA-DMBOK Overview

The framework organizes best practices, guidelines, and references accumulated from the DAMA membership and academic experts on data management theory. Each category can contain a wide range of subtopics; the diagram below illustrates the scope of the BOK. The individual pie wedges represent an area of practice for data professionals. 

Within the BOK each pie slice is called a Function, and within functions the contributions from membership have been organized into Activities to provide a consistent structure to the chapters. These functions are areas of practice; they may not actually be represented in your organization as a literal function, department, or administrative group. For each of the following bullets, ask yourself whether you know where to go in your organization with questions about assessing the requirements that fall within the category. Can you easily identify who to tap for information? If you don’t have a person or group that addresses this, you could include that as a RISK for your project.

Red Flag Examples by Data Management Function
Data Governance – The exercise of authority, control and shared decision-making (planning, monitoring and enforcement) over the management of data assets. Data Governance is high-level planning and control over data management. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: If you believe that data created by or changed in the system may be used by more than one function, documenting a stewardship and governance process will be critical for the long-term maintenance environment operation.

Data Architecture Management – The development and maintenance of enterprise data architecture, within the context of all enterprise architecture, and its connection with the application system solutions and projects that implement enterprise architecture. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: When your project is working with data in a new way, for example using data visualization tools or online-analytical processing (OLAP), this would represent a significant function level impact to the data architecture. Additional hardware, software, and human resources with the correct skill set may have a long lead-time to acquire.

Data Development – The data-focused activities within the system development lifecycle (SDLC), including data modeling and data requirements analysis, design, implementation and maintenance of databases data-related solution components. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: Due to a business acquisition, the new system must support a series of information groupings completely different from those typically used by your organization (for example: a bank acquiring an insurance agency).

Database Operations Management – Planning, control and support for structured data assets across the data lifecycle, from creation and acquisition through archival and purge. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: While investigating a potential commercial off the shelf (COTS) application, the vendor mentions that it is only available on a database platform or release level that your organization does not currently support.

Data Security Management – Planning, implementation and control activities to ensure privacy and confidentiality and to prevent unauthorized and inappropriate data access, creation or change. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: An existing system is being modified and for the first time; the system must now capture a social security number, name, address or driver’s license number.

Reference & Master Data Management – Planning, implementation and control activities to ensure consistency of contextual data values with a “golden version” of these data values. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: The business users have requested that customer demographics enrichment information be sourced from multiple vendors.

Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence Management – Planning, implementation and control processes to provide decision support data and support knowledge workers engaged in reporting, query and analysis. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: Due to a senior management personnel change, the new executive dashboard must now have drill-down capability.

Document & Content Management – Planning, implementation and control activities to store, protect and access data found within electronic files and physical records (including text, graphics, image, audio, video) [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: The legal department in your firm has determined that meeting eDiscovery regulations is part of your new system’s scope.

Meta Data Management – Planning, implementation and control activities to enable easy access to high quality, integrated meta data. [1]

Requirement Example Red Flag: Due to resource constraints, the support team for your operational reporting environment wants online help including definitions and rules associated to the information displayed on daily operation summaries. They hope to reduce Q&A time by allowing users to self-service.

Data Quality Management – Planning, implementation and control activities that apply quality management techniques to measure, assess, improve and ensure the fitness of data for use. [1] 

Requirement Example Red Flag: Existing batch processes load your system with a nightly refresh of bad data. Business users want to be able to correct data and sent the corrections back to the sourcing system.

A BA and data management professional working together on these requirements could to identify the appropriate questions for a second pass with the business users. Ask the right questions early, and you will be better able to assess and document the impact and risk.

Summary

Data management professional carry a variety of titles: data modeler, data architect, information architect, or database architect to name a few. These resources may be centralized or decentralized, so you may have to search a bit to find them and build your working relationship. With a greater understanding of the data management practice, you will be able to identify the skills and knowledge that a data management SME should have to assist you in your work!

Find resources who understand data management in your organization to help you elicit the most complete and stable data requirements for your system.

Resources:

The Data Management Association Website - Data management professional organization website provides information and resources to members; analogous to www.theiiba.org.

Requirement Red Flags Template - Template which allows the business analyst to capture the red flags discussed in this article.

ICCP Press Release for CDMP Exam – The text of the original press release for the Certified Data Management Professional Examination.

http://www.tdan.com/view-featured-columns/8176 - A brief article explaining the status of the DAMA-DMBOK in The Data Administration Newsletter (TDAN).

Enterprise Data World – The website for the 2009 DAMA Conference.

http://damancr.wilshireconferences.com/agenda.cfm?confid=29&scheduleDay=11/07/08 - Online Webinar overview of the DAMA-DMBOK.
 

Endnotes:

[1] Mark Mosley, ed., DAMA-DMBOK Functional Framework, Version 3.02, [http://www.dama.org/i4a/forms/form.cfm?id=29], September 10, 2008, 10-11.

Author: Loretta Mahon Smith, CCP, CBIP, CDMP, is Vice President for the Data Management Association - National Capital Region and an ICCP Certification Counsel Member. She is a 25 year career Data Architect in the financial services industry.





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