Professional Case Study Writers Help – Data Warehouse Governance

Professional Case Study Writers Help – Data Warehouse Governance

Professional Case Study Writers Help – Data Warehouse Governance

Professional Case Study Writers Help


Department of Management Information Systems

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Department of Management Information Systems

Hugh J. Watson

Terry College of Business

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia 30602

Celia Fuller

Durham, NC 27707

Thilini Ariyachandra

Terry College of Business

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia 30602

Company Background

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina ( is a leader in

delivering innovative health care products, services, and information to more than 2.7

million members, including 470,000 served on behalf of other Blue plans. The company

offers its members the Blue ExtrasSM value-added programs, which provide discounts and

information on a wide variety of health-related information at no additional cost. It also

offers life, dental, long-term care, and disability insurance products. For 69 years, the

company has served its customers by offering access to quality health care at a competitive

price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community

organizations, programs, and events that promote good health.

BCBSNC’s HMO and POS products have earned Excellent Accreditation from the

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not-for-profit

organization dedicated to measuring the quality of America’s health care. Blue Cross and

Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield


As an organization in the highly competitive health care industry, BCBSNC views

being customer-focused as an important element of its strategy for organizational success.

The company strives to provide its members effective services such as high quality health

care information in order to improve their health.

The Business Drivers for the CDW

Fundamental deficiencies in the information access and reporting capabilities

within BCBSNC were the key drivers that led to the creation of the corporate data

warehouse (CDW) in 1997. Prior to its implementation, organizational personnel, including

top management, had a general lack of confidence in data quality and information reporting

within the organization. Insufficient data definitions, redundancy in data, multiple data

extract and transformation processes, lack of accountability, absence of data

documentation, and poor communications on data usage were some of the contributing

factors underlying the lack of credibility of existing data management systems.

The ever-changing health care regulatory environment further supported the need

for consistent and effective data management practices across the organization. In order to

ensure that the organization’s data handling, reporting, and privacy practices were in

compliance with health insurance regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability

and Accountability Act), an integrated single repository of corporate data became essential.

In addition, areas within the organization requiring strong decision support

capabilities were experiencing great difficulty in accessing and manipulating data to meet

their daily needs.

As a result, an information management oversight team, with representatives from

the business units and IS, was established to investigate these issues and develop a set of

recommendations that addressed them. The final recommendations included establishing a

corporate data glossary, working on source data quality initiatives, and creating a corporate

data warehouse.

The original mission of the warehouse was to establish a system of record for

decision support in the organization, but this mission has evolved over time to be better

aligned with the company’s strategic focus and direction. The current mission is to be an

“engine that powers a customer-focused, information-driven company.”

Getting Started

The CDW project began with the formation of a cross-functional team, composed

of members of IS and representatives from the business areas. This team conducted an

extensive Opportunity Analysis of four primary decision support areas: (1) Actuarial and

Underwriting, (2) Market Analysis, (3) Financial Analysis, and (4) Health Services

Analysis. The Opportunity Analysis revealed the following business requirements for the

data warehouse: (1) establish consistent, timely, and easily accessible data; (2) address data

quality issues; (3) develop and document common data definitions and business rules for

using data; (4) provide ease of use for non technical users; and (5) support sophisticated

analytical processes.

The cross-functional team identified the business areas that required decision

support capabilities and prioritized the timing of the implementation of eight key subject

areas. Figure 1 shows a sample of the two dozen information opportunities that were

discovered (the rows), their priority level (reflected by the shading of the cells), and the

eight subject areas (the columns) that were identified to support the opportunities. Joint

application development (JAD) sessions conducted during this phase led to the creation of

common data definitions with cross-functional consensus.

Figure 1: Opportunity Analysis

In the months that followed, a series of workshops with operational and decision

support areas were held to help build a logical data model around the subject areas. These

long, arduous logical modeling sessions enabled the team to clearly understand the business

processes, information processes, and data needs. The result was a comprehensive data

model that has enabled the team to design, implement, and make continuous improvements

to the CDW. Figure 2 presents a sample of the high-level logical data model for the CDW.

Figure 2: The Logical Data Model

The Current Data Warehouse

Since 1997, the data warehousing initiative has evolved and delivered data and

functionality in phases as identified and prioritized by the business areas. The current CDW

supports a broad set of applications for more than 200 users in the business areas of Sales

and Marketing, Financial Services, Corporate Analysis and Risk Assessment, Corporate

Audit, and Health Quality Improvement. It draws data from 12 source systems, including

five legacy claims processing systems, six external and third-party data sources, and a new

managed care claims processing system introduced by the company. Figure 3 presents the

detail tables in the eight subject areas identified in the logical model as well as five

summary tables and two clinical constructs. Clinical constructs are complex table structures

that create inpatient and outpatient cases and the associated professional health services.

Complex algorithms integrate data associated with a patient’s set of related health care

experiences (i.e., seeing a physician, having a test run).

Figure 3: The Corporate Data Warehouse

At present, the CDW environment has more than 200 tables, 1,500 data elements,

and 2.5 terabytes of data storage. The hardware architecture is MPP (massively parallel

processing) with 17 nodes each with 4 processors for a total of 68 processors to support the

high processing capabilities required by the CDW’s production, test, and development


Data Warehouse Governance

From the inception of the warehouse project, the data warehouse governance

structure has played a key role in the CDW’s ability to meet business needs and to adapt to

organizational change. This is due to the cross-functional, multi-level nature of the

governance structure that supports the data warehousing effort. Figure 4 shows the current

governance structure, its composition, and major activities. The governance structure has

gradually evolved over the years to include three groups that correspond with the three

different levels of the organizational hierarchy. The groups are: the Vice President Data

Oversight Team, the Data Development Oversight Team, and the Business Requirements


To ensure effective communication between the CDW team and the different levels

of organizational hierarchy, a member of the CDW team chairs and facilitates the activities

of each of the governance groups (the CDW team structure is described in greater detail in

section 3.6). While the manager of the Business Information Design and Architecture

group of the CDW team is accountable for facilitating the Business Requirements Group,

the director of the CDW team chairs the Data Development Oversight team and the Vice

President of Decision Support chairs the Vice President Data Oversight Team.

VPDOT: The Vice President Data Oversight Team

This officer level, cross-functional team includes a business leader from each of the

major divisions within the organization. They meet as needed and provide high-level

direction for the entire warehouse initiative. For instance, they provide prioritization criteria

and strategic guidance for the CDW project and deal with resource management and

prioritization issues when the DDOT cannot resolve them. The VPDOT focuses on

ensuring the alignment of the direction of the CDW with the corporate direction.

DDOT: The Data Development Oversight Team

This director/manager level team performs most of the project and resource

prioritization tasks. It establishes the schedules and priorities for development phases,

enhancements, and functionality of the warehouse within budgeted resources. Additionally,

it helps resolve cross-functional issues. The DDOT initially met bi-monthly, but due to the

high volume of planning and prioritization required, the meetings are currently conducted

on a monthly basis.

The Business Requirements Group

This group has been involved in the development of the warehouse almost since the

inception of the warehouse project and is composed of CDW power users as well as

representatives from the primary decision support areas that were involved in the initial

Opportunity Analysis. The purpose of this group is to discuss and communicate CDW

development and use issues with CDW team members and users. Much of their focus is on

the development of data. For example, they develop the rules for populating the CDW and

cross-functional data definitions. The Business Requirements Group meets bi-weekly in

order to make day-to-day decisions on data quality problems, production data fixes, data

stewardship issues, and other daily project management decisions.

Figure 4: Current Governance Structure

Since 1997, there has been turnover in BCBSNC’s CEO, CIO, and most of the

Senior Vice President positions. Despite these changes in the upper management of the

company, where the main source of sponsorship and direction for the CDW project lies, the

original requirements and priorities described in the initial Opportunity Analysis have not

changed. Although requirements that drive the direction of the CDW are owned by the

leadership of the business areas, any changes in direction and enhancements are quickly

and effectively communicated to the CDW team via the VPDOT, DDOT, and the Business

Requirements User Group. As a result, CDW awareness of needed changes in direction

occurs early in the process. The frequency of meetings with these groups and the buy-in

these groups have to the data warehouse development process support good

communications, healthy debate, and a commitment to consensus on the vision and

direction for the CDW.

The CDW Team

In addition to the cross-functional, multiple level governance structure, a strong

warehouse team is critical to the successful execution and continued development of a data

warehouse in a business environment that is changing rapidly. Since the introduction of

the data warehouse, the data warehousing team has undergone continuous restructuring and

evolution in order to serve the changing needs of the different stakeholders within the

organization, including upper management, regulatory bodies, the governance groups, and

the user community in different business areas.

In 2001, the CDW team was restructured to four groups to better adapt to the

changing business environment: the Decision Support Consulting Team, the Business

Information and Design and Architecture Team, the DW Project Management and

Development Team, and the DW Operations and Quality Control Team. Figure 5 provides

a detailed listing of the roles and responsibilities of each of the four teams.

Figure 5: CDW Team Structure

The Business Information Design and Architecture team is responsible for the

identification of high-level needs and requirements of new development projects, design

and data analysis, logical data modeling and business rules, and meta-data specification.

The Project Management and Development group manages the technical design and ETL

tool development and testing. The Data Warehouse Operations and Quality Control team is

responsible for the operation of the data warehouse. Finally, the Decision Support

Consulting team manages training and educating the users on the current functionality of

the data warehouse. This team interacts with users in the field and provides one-on-one

mentoring and training where required. They also work closely with users in various

business areas to identify new needs, functionality, and business areas to be served. It is

interesting to note that the DSC team does not produce reports or do analysis, their role is

to support these functions which happen in business areas. Figure 6 illustrates the high-
level organizational flow between the four teams.

Figure 6: CDW Team Organizational Flow

Training Users

Along with the recent restructuring of the CDW team, training practices have also

evolved. As a result of the close working relationship between the decision support

consultants and the business areas, a new approach to training has been implemented.

Previously, users were given computer-based training (CBT) designed to provide skills

on specific tools (e.g, Business Objects, SQL*Plus). In addition, the CDW staff

conducted classes on data warehousing concepts and the data in the warehouse. With this

approach, users found it difficult to apply the skills learned to their daily work. In

response, the decision support consultants designed a training program that targets the

users’ specific job functions (i.e., the reports and analyses they need to perform). Users

bring a specific work-related project to the training course, and in the course of one day

per week over four weeks, complete the project using skills learned during the course. At

the end of the training program, the users make a presentation of their project

accomplishments and leave the training session with a better understanding of how to

utilize the data warehouse in their work. The user project presentations also serve as a

means of educating other users on the potential uses of the warehouse. The training

sessions at BCBSNC have been met with great enthusiasm by the user groups and have

proven to be an effective strategy for educating the user community.

The ongoing user support provided by the CDW staff is an additional source of

assistance and exposure of the data warehouse to current and potential users. The

Reporter/User Group Meetings provide a bi-weekly open forum for users of all levels to

discuss topics of interest and cover all methods of accessing the warehouse.

Consequently, on alternate weeks, users have access to training labs that present in-depth

presentations on business cases and advanced query concepts as well as provide one-on-
one coaching.

The training practices and additional support at BCBSNC have been met with

great enthusiasm by the user groups and have proven to be an effective strategy for

educating the user community.


BCBSNC has gained a wide range of benefits from its data warehouse. The most

obvious benefit has been the creation of a “single view of the truth;” that is, a single source

of organization-wide data. The cross-functional team approach to CDW development led to

consensus in data definitions, identification of the best source systems to use for reporting

and analysis purposes, and greater data accuracy. This resulted in valid and consistent

reporting across the organization, which was the primary requirement of the CDW.

In addition, the warehouse has led to numerous other tangible and intangible

benefits. Its introduction has promoted a better understanding of the use and efficiencies

that can be gained through relational databases. The comprehension and ability to conduct

better technical cost analyses has led to the retirement of a marketing information system. It

also allowed the actuarial and underwriting areas to attain head count savings by

reassigning and eliminating programming staff.

The use of the warehouse has also contributed to better data analysis and time

savings by users. Corporate analysts spend less time compiling data and more time

analyzing data. Figure 8 presents a sample of some of the benefits and savings in reporting

and processes that BCBSNC is currently reaping from the CDW. The cost savings also

extend to costs associated with accessing data from external sources. For instance, the

CDW eliminated a cost of $20,000 associated with obtaining data from a vendor to support

legislative activities.

The warehouse also eased the establishment of the new claims system, which

introduced new products, benefits, and a new way of providing service to BCBSNC

customers. The new system was an unexpected addition to the original requirements for the

CDW team. As BCBSNC customers were gradually migrated to the new products and

benefits, the consolidation of data from the existing systems and the new system was

critical. The data warehouse became the means of data consolidation from both core

systems and a key component in the transition.

An organization-wide effort to improve data quality is another initiative that was

driven by the development of the CDW. As part of the monthly CDW load process, source

data is evaluated and reports documenting differences are broadcast to the business areas.

This has enabled the warehouse team to drive operational business areas to correctly

capture data in the source systems, resulting in greater data accuracy and cost savings

through more efficient data loading to the CDW.

In addition to satisfying its primary goal of improving reporting, the data

warehousing effort has enabled BCBSNC to effectively pursue its customer-focused

corporate information management strategy. For example, there are future plans to capture

and store data from additional customer touchpoints, such as the call center and the

corporate Web site, in order to better understand customer behavior and improve customer

service. Visitors to the corporate Web site who are known (such as BCBSNC members)

will be able to experience dialogs that are customized to best meet their needs and support

BCBSNC’s marketing efforts. Knowledge of a customer’s projected lifetime value will be

made available to operational personnel, such as customer service representatives. All of

these customer relationship management-oriented applications will be enabled by the

enhanced CDW.

Despite being subject to a competitive, dynamic business environment, a difficult

regulatory environment, and a changing corporate management, the effective governance

practices at BCBSNC have helped the company establish a successful CDW. It enabled the

organization to change from a one-dimensional mindset in different business areas to a

cross-functional consensus on data and processes critical to the overall operation of the


Figure 8: Example Uses of the CDW

Questions for Discussion

1. Describe how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina handles the following

component parts of data warehouse governance:

(a) Identifying business needs

(b) Achieving alignment with company goals

(c) Determining information requirements

(d) Setting priorities

(e) Establishing data definitions and models

(f) Maintaining data quality

2. What approaches to training users have worked best?

3. What benefits have been realized?

1. Describe how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina handles the following

component parts of data warehouse governance:

(a) Identifying business needs: In today’s world where the health care regulatory environment is

changing regularly, there was a need for effective data management practices across the


2. What approaches to training users have worked best?

The responsibility of training and educating the users is the responsibility of the Decision

Support Consulting Team. This team trains and educates the users about the current functionality

of the data warehouse.

3. What benefits have been realized?

The most important benefit is the creation of a “single view of the truth”, which means that a

single source of organization-wide data has been recognized.

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