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The Kimball Lifecycle methodology was conceived during the mid-1980s by members of the Kimball Group and other colleagues at Metaphor Computer Systems, a pioneering decision support company. Since then, it has been successfully utilized by thousands of data warehouse and business intelligence (DW/BI) project teams across virtually every industry, application area, business function, and technical platform.

Originally referred to as the Business Dimensional Lifecycle approach, this moniker reinforced our method’s core tenets:

  • Focus on adding business value across the enterprise
  • Dimensionally structure the data that’s delivered to the business
  • Iteratively develop the DW/BI environment in manageable lifecycle increments rather than attempting a galactic Big Bang approach

When the approach was first published in the 1990s, most alternative approaches weren’t emphasizing these Kimball principles. However, since then, they’ve been broadly adopted and have become mainstream industry best practices.

The Kimball Lifecycle approach is illustrated in the following diagram. It provides an overall roadmap depicting the sequence of high level tasks required for successful DW/BI projects.

Regardless of your organization’s specific DW/BI objectives, we believe an overarching team goal should be business acceptance of the DW/BI deliverables to support the business’ decision making. This target must remain in the forefront throughout the design, development, and deployment of your DW/BI system.

Design Tip #115 Kimball Lifecycle in a Nutshell provides an overview of the Kimball methodology. Full coverage is available in The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit, Second Edition.