What’s in Your Deck?

By Sid Adelman

You went to the TDWI, DAMA, Data Governance Conference, International Oracle Users Group, Teradata Partners, or International DB2 Users Group and there were some wonderful presentations, excellent best practices exposed, great opportunities for new tools or more effective use of the tools you already have. In addition you have many of your own ideas and you know how to implement some of these ideas but if you can’t sell them to management, they are just ideas that will find no home. How will you present those jewels in a way that will resonate with your bosses? You will need a presentation, probably in PowerPoint (sometimes called a “deck”), actually a set of presentations geared to your diverse audiences. The IT people will be getting a different set than the business folks with different terminology and different appeals. The length of the presentation will also be geared to the audience’s attention span and their level of interest in what you have to present.

What needs to be in this deck? First of all, a good title that will intrigue the listeners and will encourage them to schedule you in the first place. The hook is both the statement of the problem orpain pointsor theopportunitiesas well as the promise of a solution.

Pain Points

What are the most important issues or the current pain points such as customer attrition, employee resignations, decreased sales, failure of new marketing programs, problems in integration of acquired customers, supplier problems, issues of product quality, competitive activity, or increased delivery costs. Hopefully, you are in a position to accurately represent the metrics related to your organization’s pain points. For example:

“Why Have Our Customers Abandoned Us?”

Your deck will present the facts showing current customer attrition compared to previous periods and present the lost revenue from these ex-customers. Also, if possible, indicate how the competition has recruited your old customers. The presentation should have one or more slides on the reason for the attrition such as outsourced customer support, decrease in customer satisfaction, competitive marketing and offerings, poor product quality, or late deliveries.

“Why Have Product A Sales Tanked?

Your deck will show the trend of decreased sales ofProduct Aover the last two years by month or by quarter, depending on how your organization typically measures sales. The slides would show sales by region, by channel, and by sales organization. Other slides would have the marketing programs associated with the product as well as information about product quality, focus group results, customer satisfaction measurements, warranty metrics, and competitive activity. The deck would conclude with what steps are being taken to stem the decline.

“Why Did our New Marketing Program Fail?”

Your deck would have a slide or two on the specific marketing program, its intended audience, expected acceptance rate, and cost per acquisition or conversion. The slides would show the results of the marketing program with comparisons to expectations, demonstrating how they did not meet expectations. The deck would have ideas and recommendations for improving the estimation process as well as improving the results of future programs.


Based on your ideas and the practices where other organizations have achieved excellent results, you are in a position to suggest major improvements in the way you improve data quality, implement a metadata initiative, make better use of tools, make BI analysts more productive, and bring projects in on time and within budget. For example:

“BI Analyst Productivity – What Are We Missing?”

Your deck would describe the BI Analyst community, where they report, their level of training, their activity using which tools, and their level of satisfaction with response time, availability, data quality, training, and support. Your slides might make some comparisons with the rest of the BI Analyst world in each of these categories. The deck might recommend a BI Competency Center and indicate what resources would be required to build and staff the center. A high level plan with dates, activities, roles and responsibilities would complete the action plan.

“Let’s Look at Lowering Hardware Cost Through Consolidation”

Your deck would show your server farm and which databases were on each server. The deck would show redundancy and indicate opportunities for consolidating databases, integrating data, and minimizing redundancy (you’ll never be able to totally eliminate redundant data). The slides would prioritize which databases could be consolidated, which servers could be sunsetted, and the cost savings for each initiative. It should be noted that the cost savings goes beyond just the hardware but should also include the labor savings in administering and maintaining the hardware and the reduced effort in reconciling results from redundant data and their spawn.

“Bad Data – How Bad is it?”

Your deck could show how data quality is being measured, the actual results of data quality profiling (missing data, data that does not match valid values, outliers, non-unique data, data violating business rules), and the trends in each category. The slides could indicate the cost, the embarrassment, the missed opportunities, or the regulatory fines associated with historical data quality problems. The deck would suggest activities and standards to improve data quality along with role and responsibility assignments and how this problem and opportunity could be regularly monitored.

“Metadata – It’s About Time to Make a Commitment”

Your deck would give an introduction to metadata including what metadata would be valuable. The slides would show what metadata is currently being captured and available and how it’s being used today in a limited fashion. The deck would suggest additional activities to build, populate, and maintain a metadata repository along with the roles and responsibilities required to make it happen.

“Our Tools are Being Underutilized”

Your deck would show the tools that are being used, how they are being used, their effectiveness, and any problems associated with the products. The presentation would give an historical perspective of how long the tools had been used and their use for each application. The deck would then tell how other organizations are using the tools, suggest ideas for more effective use of the tools, perhaps some consolidation, sunsetting a product or two, and how to better leverage the vendors for improved support or other vendor involvement.

“We Can Bring Our Projects in on Time and Within Budget”

Your deck would show the results of major projects, conformance to schedule, budget, quality, and function delivered. The slides would have the results of lessons learned from the projects and ideas for improvement. The slides would also have best practices from other organizations on how they brought the project in on time and within budget. The deck would have specific recommendations on project planning, scheduling, budgeting, cost justification, and project follow-up.

“Let’s Take Credit for ‘Sustainability’ Activities”

Your deck might describe the activities your organization already has in place that contribute to our planet’s sustainability including decreased use of energy and water, less physical waste, recycling, and lower transportation activities. The slides would show cost historical savings, trends, and how these savings are measured. The deck could then go on to suggest additional opportunities for sustainability cost savings and how the organization could take credit and represent itself in the “green” space.

About the Author

Sid Adelman is a principal consultant with Sid Adelman & Associates, an organization specializing in planning and implementing data warehouses, performing data warehouse and BI assessments, and in establishing effective data strategies. He is a regular speaker at “The Data Warehouse Institute” and IBM’s “DB2 and Data Warehouse Conference”. Sid chairs the “Ask the Experts” column on www.dmreview.com, and has had a bi-monthly column in DMReview. He is a frequent contributor to journals that focus on data warehousing.  He co-authored one of the initial works in data warehousing, Data Warehousing, Practical Advice from the Experts, and is co-author of Data Warehouse Project Management with Larissa Moss. He is the principal author of Impossible Data Warehouse Situations with Solutions from the Experts and his newest book, Data Strategy, was co-authored by Larissa Moss and Majid Abai. He can be reached at 818 783 9634and sidadelman@aol.com. His web site is www.sidadelman.com.

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