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OLAP implementation cycle

What is the implementation cycle of OLAP?

OLAP isn't strictly a CRM tool but it can be used as part of a CRM implementation in order to help understand customer data. For example, OLAP can be used to identify segments of customers that are to receive a special offer via the CRM system. The power of OLAP is its ability to let users interactively surf through large volumes of business data.

In terms of implementing OLAP, the first step is to identify the business objectives that you are going to tackle with the OLAP database. For example, you might be interested in understanding sales patterns across your various divisions and geographic sales territories. This would require that you organize the data by division (and subdivision, geography (e.g., country, region, individual sales rep), and time (year, quarter, month). This would allow you to look at 2002 YTD sales in the Western Region for the Number 1 Widget division (and a multitude of other permutations).

Once you have the business objectives defined, you need to marshal the data needed to support these structures. In the example above, you need to find data related to sales at the division, geography, and time scale. This might require some changes in corporate data management policies in order to get the data you need to support stated business goals.

Once the data is available, you can start using the tools provided by the OLAP vendor in order to define the database structures. When the database structures are defined, the data can be loaded. With the data in the OLAP database, you can start to create reports and graphs that represent the business goals that you started with.

This process repeats as new business objectives are developed or new views of existing data structures are identified.

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