By Hari Mailvaganam
Much of a data warehousing project's success is determined at the onset. A data warehousing request for proposal (RFP) is a powerful tool in dictating the project's tone.
This article gives an overview of some of the components that are covered in an RFP. Data warehousing projects are unique to an organization's business requirements, computer resources and budget. Please contact us if you have any questions.
1. General Information for Vendors
§ Lists the Project Vision
§ Project timelines
§ Nature of contract
Reasoning: Give an overview of project and format for the RFP process.
2. System Background
Description of the Technical Environment
a) Description on the Client and Server specifications at the Ministry.
b) Breakdown of user types for the data warehouse:
Number of Users
Uses “canned” reports and queries.
Frequent user, edits reports, queries directly and builds cubes for multi-dimensional analysis.
c) Software tools for the data warehouse:
· ETL Tools
· Report and Query Tools
· Data Analysis
· Data Visualization Tools
Reasoning: Give an overview of the expected installation. Also specify points of particular
3. System Requirements
- List of General Requirements
→ Give an overview of the data warehouse environment.
Reasoning: An overview of the rational for the data warehouse implementation.
- Mandatory Requirements
a) List if the software is Client/Server based or web-based. Described what functions are available via the Internet browser. Describe what plug-ins (if any) are necessary for the client machines.
b) State that the vendor must communicate with the Ministry’s database and applications. Ask the vendor how they propose to do this.
c) The vendor must be committed to its products remaining compatible with future versions of Oracle. Ask the vendor to offer documents as evidence of commitment to this environment.
d) The vendor’s system must enable the overall optimization of the Ministry’s environment:
I) Ask for how the vendor’s system minimizes user response time while maximizing the use of system resources.
ii) Ask the vendor to explain the system’s architecture for data selection, processing, formatting.
iii) Ask for evidence that network traffic is minimized and how the need to process large data sets on the client is also minimized.
Reasoning: Based on user interviews and technical review, these are the must
have features for the data warehouse installation.
- Strongly Desired Features
→ The vendor’s system must allow users to schedule reports.
→ Does your system permit users to schedule at a certain time
and date? Daily? Weekly? Based on an event?
Describe how scheduling is accomplished and the options for scheduling reports.
Reasoning: Based on the requirements analysis, the items listed here are
additional features that will be good to have but not mandatory.
- Desired Features
→ Does your system possess a redundant query control?
This feature returns a saved version of a report whenever an identical report has been executed earlier – the report, output format, and raw data all remain constant in the interim. Describe how this works in your system.
What are the limits in terms of how far back reports are archived?
Reasoning: Following the rational of “Strongly Desired Features” above, this
section lists a lower desired set of requirements.
4. Information Required from Vendors
§ Product Profile
o Product name
o Product description
o Current release level
o Date current release level was available
o Projected date for the next release candidate
o Current products install base
o Industry verticals of installation
o Number of installations
o Breakdown of installations/users
Reasoning: Gauge vendor’s product specifications and maturity.
o Describe the level of involvement the consultants will have at each stage of the project.
o What is the experience of the consultants?
o Location of Consultants.
o Please forward resumes of consultants.
Reasoning: Evaluate experience and competency of the vendor’s team.
Also enquire on the consultants’ geographic location, this will help evaluate
possible response rate.
§ Business Partners
o Ask the vendor to state which products are fully integrated to your solution.
o Describe the interconnectivity and interface requirements.
Reasoning: Enquire what other products can integrate well with the solution, e.g. Crystal Reports, Cognos. Also, the vendor will state the ease at which integration can occur.
§ Full feature of the business intelligence solution and products
o Ask what makes the product stand out.
Reasoning: This will give the vendor a chance to distinguish their products.
Further business intelligence capabilities such as OLAP, Data mining can be evaluated.
§ Application areas
o Describe the areas the solution supports i.e. budgeting, financial planning etc.
Reasoning: Evaluate which areas the data warehousing solution can serve.
The “Mandatory Features” section above will inform the vendor the area which are necessary for the Ministry. This section gives further information on the vendors solution and possible areas which the Ministry can use in the future.
§ Web-based and standalone clients
o Query if the solution supports both web-based and standalone clients. Ask which functionality is not supported in both versions (i.e. what works in a standalone client and not web-based and vice versa)
Reasoning: The architecture is of a fundamental importance. This section will enquire if the vendor’s solution will match the Ministry requirements.
§ Pricing and Licensing Model
o How much does the product cost, including initial training, support and consulting?
Reasoning: Gauge the cost of the solution and other indirect costs.
§ System Installation and Tool Administration
o Please describe the platform and system requirements of your product.
o For web-based clients, are there specific requirements on the type and version of browser that may be used (e. g. Netscape vs. Internet Explorer)?
o Please describe the overall architecture of your product (e. g. Client/ Server, two-tier/ three-tier architecture, etc.), including how your product functions in a geographically distributed environment.
o Please describe the steps involved in installing your product.
o Please list the administrative functions that are included in your product (e. g. defining roles, backup/ recovery, etc.).
o How do tool administrators detect when your product requires additional hardware or requires human intervention (e. g. to restart a process, etc.).
o How often are major/ minor software upgrades available? How would we be notified of a new software release?
o Please describe how standalone (I. e. non-web-based) clients are distributed to end-user desktops. How are software upgrades distributed to end-users?
o Are there ways to make the upgrade process transparent to the end-users?
Reasoning: The above questions and statements will give further information on the vendor’s solution regarding the installation and administration of your product.
o How are end-users and administrators authenticated to your product?
o How do end-users and administrators gain access to reports, data sets, etc. (e. g. via roles)?
o Please fully describe how reports and data are protected from unauthorized users.
o Please describe how row-level access to the data is attained.
o What level of encryption is used on passwords, data, reports, etc.?
o How does the existence of a firewall change the security architecture?
o How does the web-based client differ in terms of security from the standalone client?
Reasoning: Questions on security must also pass the security criteria set by regulators or industry standards .
§ Performance and Scalability
o Does the product supports a substantial increase in data size, frequency and complexity of end-user queries?
o How is performance measured within your product?
Reasoning: Evaluation of how the product can scale to future expectations.