Dear Bob: ...
I manage a smaller-sized IT shop that has a number of specialties in it. This requires a great deal of trust on my part since I am not the technical expert at everything we do.
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We started a data warehouse project a few years ago, and I began by hiring who I thought was a solid technical person to initiate the effort. The project initially went well, but I started to feel like it wasn't progressing like it should. Last year, I asked my best operational manager to lead the effort. We later added a second technical staff member to the project.
As you know, data warehousing is a highly technical field that requires knowledge on a number of fronts. I was concerned that my operational manager would struggle to become comfortable dealing with people who perceived themselves as experts; sadly, that was the case. He asked to leave the project. I complied and don't fault his effort at all. He is a solid leader.
Since that time, I have done some digging into the project and, in my opinion, have found some core flaws. I am left wondering if I did not offer the proper vision or direction, even though the entire reason I hired an expert initially was to tell me how to do data warehousing right.
So now I am left with doubts on the direction of the effort, and I am not technically expert enough to suggest a complete solution. My first thought was to bring in an independent consultant to do a one- to two-month evaluation of the entire project, along with a plan to move it forward. The expert would be someone who has been through multiple implementations. Of course, now I am left wondering how I would know if the consultant was really an expert.
Dear Warehosed ...
My first question is about the technical expert you initially hired to lead the effort. I see three possibilities:
- He's fully competent and issues beyond his control are what caused the problems.
- He's technically competent but lacks project management and other organizational skills.
- He's just a bad hire -- looked good on paper and in the interviews, not so good once at his desk.
If the answer is No. 1, then putting your ops guy in charge was the wrong decision. It would have caused bad feelings without fixing the problems.