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Case Study: First Data

What you see is what you get. Really

To capture intelligence more rapidly from the hundreds of thousands of transactions it processes daily, First Data commissioned MIP to build a data warehouse with WhereScape RED, using an agile methodology. Well…not right away.

First Data IT Manager Richard Ridge explains that initially the internal project team sought to use the traditional waterfall approach for the development of the warehouse. “After more than 35 iterations of the business requirements, we knew that we needed a new approach. Not only had this process taken a month, but there was a clear risk that if we proceeded to a full build, the business users might not be happy with the results.”

WhereScape RED automates lots of repetitive and labour-intensive work usually associated with data warehouse projects – and that has saved IT a lot of build time.

Richard Ridge IT Manager, First Data

Richard was aware of WhereScape RED’s reputation as providing a more agile approach to data warehouse and business intelligence projects. He felt this was the key to reaching a shared understanding between business users and the development team.

“Using WhereScape RED, the MIP team produced a fully functioning prototype within a week,” Richard recalls. “The MIP guys then had regular meetings with us and a selection of business users to carry out a series of rapid iterations. For the first time the users new what they wanted – because they could see it in action.”

That the MIP team spoke the same language as the business users was very important. “They’re experienced, and commercially-minded. They talk about the result, not about the code.”

It’s clear that to be truly effective, a data warehouse needs to change as requirements change. This has maybe been swept under the carpet in the industry, but with MIP’s agile methodology, and WhereScape RED as a tool, we’re doing it.

Richard Ridge IT Manager, First Data

“WhereScape RED is the perfect complement to our Microsoft tools,” Richard says. First Data uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as the underlying database platform and WhereScape RED provides an integrated development environment to design, build and support the data warehouse. Richard comments: “With RED in the mix, we’ve got the flexibility to change schemas without having to go back and recast whole swathes of ETL. WhereScape RED also automates lots of the repetitive and labour-intensive work usually associated with data warehouse projects – and that has saved IT a lot of build time.”

After more than 35 iterations of the business requirements, we knew that we needed a new approach

Richard Ridge IT Manager, First Data

The results of the first project with MIP and WhereScape RED were so good that First Data has since commissioned another two data warehouse projects for other parts of the business. “We used to take two weeks to create end-of-month reports using macros and manual processing,” Richard says. “Now the information is available in real time, directly to the users.”

The Challenge

  • Capture insight rapidly from hundreds of thousands of daily transactions
  • Reach an understanding of the (changing) needs of business users

The Solution

  • Implementation of WhereScape RED, and use of MIP’s agile methodology to carry out a series of rapid iterations to flush out user requirements
  • Self-coding, self-documenting system to save IT labour

Return On Investment

  • Shaved months of the build time as compared to standard methodologies 
  • The information gleaned from 2 weeks of report writing is now available in real time, direct to users.