6 Tips for Designing a Data Warehouse


A data warehouse is necessary for a company that has accumulated or is going to accumulate a lot of transaction data. Data warehouses are necessary for performing analytics, monitoring, and analysis of data.  A data warehouse is also vital for any successful business intelligence (BI) system. If you don’t design a good data warehouse, your BI system will be flawed.

Here are six tips for designing a good data warehouse.

1. Think of your long-term needs when designing your data warehouse:

You shouldn’t design your data warehouse based on your current business needs alone. A lot of companies barely see yields on their data warehouse investments in the short term. There is a need to design the data warehouse with a long-term view of some years to come. Think about your organizational roadmap and your long-term business strategies.

2. Consider speed over visual design: 

Speed is more important than visual design when designing a data warehouse. Speedy response time is of paramount importance for a data warehouse. Yes, beautiful charts and reports are cool but do not sacrifice speed for beauty. Simple reports can take as little as mere seconds to load while fancy ones make take some minutes to load. Focus on rapid report generation above other things when designing your data warehouse.

3. Add processes for data governance during the design stage:

A data warehouse provides a lot of data and the data provided is expected to be accurate. But if errors occur in the data provided, the data warehouse is usually blamed. When data with errors is fed into the data warehouse, it won’t make any sense to stop the operations of the data warehouse to cleanse the data. You should implement robust data governance processes to maintain clean data when designing your data warehouse. There should be processes for active monitoring of data. Incorporate these at the design stage.

4. Involve all relevant departments in the design of the data warehouse:

In some companies, the design of the data warehouse is left to the IT team alone. This is wrong. A data warehouse provides a lot of benefits to a company, ultimately helping to revolutionize operations and making management operations much smoother. Others should be carried along in the design of the data warehouse.

5. Create a self-service or ad-hoc query layer:

You need to incorporate a self-service layer in your data warehouse to help with generating simple reports. It takes time, effort and bandwidth for an IT team to generate reports. But with a self-service later, simple reports can be generated without affecting the underlying data model. Implement well-titled hierarchical columns in your design so simple reports can be generated easily.

6. Ensure the metadata is well designed:

When designing your data warehouse, pay a lot of attention to the metadata. The metadata integrates the ETL (extract, transform, load), data models and BI together. A lot of companies make the mistake of rushing their metadata design. Poor metadata implementation will lead to poor reports that can’t be easily understood. Good metadata makes it easy to understand reports from your data warehouse. Add descriptions to columns and tables when designing your data warehouse. Ensure you follow the same naming pattern and make all descriptions easy to understand. This way, reports generated from your data warehouse will be easy to understand.


The six tips above will help you design a better and more efficient data warehouse. The importance of a flawless data warehouse cannot be overemphasized. Your data warehouse must provide consistent and legally-binding data that will ensure that decisions taken are reliable and auditable. The reports produced by the data warehouse can also help you with managing shared audiences.