The Challenges of Data Warehousing

Written by: Trent Johnson

The term “data warehouse” is undoubtedly a buzzword — especially in the nonprofit industry. Large corporations have been using data warehouses for more than a decade to provide long-term storage for operational data and to make analysis of that data a whole lot easier. Now, nonprofits are catching on and are wondering exactly how they might be able to leverage data warehouses to build better reports, better understand the health of their organization and fundraising campaigns, and make more informed decisions about development.

There are two distinct challenges that organizations face when they approach data analysis. The first is “data locality”, which basically means “where the data lives”. The second, which is arguably the more challenging of the two is “query logic”, or “how can we join, manipulate, and display the data so that it means something”.

Solving the data locality challenge can be time-consuming and expensive. First, you’ll have to figure out all of the places where your organization lives. You probably have a CRM, an email campaign tool, a website, and a half-dozen other systems each with their own silo of data. Getting the data out of these silos could mean hiring software developers, paying the vendor for custom export services, or even engaging a third-party IT firm to build programs that copy the data from each silo onto a single server for analysis. Nonprofits which have partnered with DMI are able to avoid thousands of dollars in development costs by taking advantage of dozens of pre-built integrations with popular tools like Salesforce, Mailchimp, Stripe, WooCommerce and more.

There’s no easy away around the second challenge, which is query logic. You’ll find tools scattered across the internet claiming to make analysis easy, but you’ll find empty promises inside each one. Analyzing the data in your organization’s data warehouse requires expert SQL development and experience with business intelligence platforms like Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, or Sisense. Without this knowledge and experience, you’ll find yourself paying for a lot of data storage without any real benefit to your organization. DMI helps its partners overcome the query logic challenge by providing dedicated SQL developers and BI experts focused on building impactful reports and dashboards that evolve with your needs.

If your organization is ready to begin exploring data warehousing, reach out to us. We’d love to help you understand the challenges you’ll face, the transformative power of business intelligence, and how our team of experts can help you develop and scale a data warehouse of your own.