Business Intelligence (BI) systems are the heart of any company’s analytical capability. This course introduces the delegate to all the necessary terminology, architectures, approaches, skills, techniques, and infrastructure necessary to design and implement a successful BI system. The course focuses on the generic skills that are necessary to create an effective BI system and will teach you the skills that underpin good BI development no matter which software platform you use.

A BI system has the potential to revolutionise your business. It can turn the mass of data that sits in your operational systems (Finance, HR, Sales etc.) into high quality, well-defined information. This information allows you to move from a ‘gut-feel’ approach of decision making to a proper, evidence-based approach. A well-designed BI system collects the appropriate data from your operational systems and move it into a data warehouse. There it is restructured and organised for analytical purposes and often deployed to data marts. The approach, methodology and design techniques required to build a BI system differ significantly from those required to build operational systems and include ETL (Extract, Transform and Load), dimensional modelling and OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing).

Target Audience

This course is made up of a mix of theory and vendor-neutral practicals that allow delegates to apply the principles they have learnt. It is ideal for developers, software engineers, database administrators, data analysts, system analysts or application designers who will be involved in designing, building or maintaining a BI system. Please note delegates who have previously attended CSWARDE2 - Effective Data Warehouse Construction should not attend this course.

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Basic understanding of IT and how business systems use IT; this would be gained by at least a year's experience in IT or business systems development.
Some exposure to Relational Databases and Database Modelling. Database modelling skills can be acquired on QA's Database Analysis and Design course.
Systems/Application programming experience would also be an advantage.

Please note:

Delegates who have previously attended:

'CSWARDE2 - Effective Data Warehouse Construction'


'QADM - Dimension Modelling'

- Should not attend this course due to duplication of content.

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Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Make a business case, assemble a project team, and lay the infrastructure necessary for the BI system construction to begin
  • Design, implement, utilise, maintain, and administer the BI system
  • Understand dimensional modelling
  • Talk to users and create a logical model from their analytical requirements
  • Turn those logical models into a star schema
  • Extract data from one or more operational systems
  • Transform, condition, and cleanse the data
  • Load the data into the data warehouse using a variety of mechanisms
  • Query, drill-down, and report the data
  • Understand the role of technologies such as OLAP and data mining
  • Assess your organisation's readiness to embark on a BI project
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Course Outline


Data overview, Historical background; What is a BI System and why do we need it? OLTP versus OLAP; Benefits to the business; Benefits to IT; Reasons for failure; The processes of building and running BI systems

BI Architectures

Centralised Data Warehouse; Independent or Federated Data Marts; Hybrid approach; Standards

The Project

Top down vs. bottom up development; Ownership & funding; Methodology; Scoping and requirements gathering

Requirement Analysis

Review of modelling terminology and techniques; How a Warehouse is different; Logical and physical modelling; 3NF vs. denormalisation, Questions to ask in determining requirements; Sun modelling

Dimensional Modelling Basics

The dimensional model; The fact table; The dimension tables; Modelling Attributes in the Dimensions; Steps in design

Dimensional Modelling Further Considerations

Conformed Dimensions; Synonym Dimensions; Mini Dimensions; Snowflaking; Slowly changing dimension types 0-4; Junk dimensions; Degenerate dimensions; Aggregations; The importance of Surrogate Keys

Data Extraction

Extraction method; The meaning of the data, The Data Quality Assessment Process

Data Transformation

The case for data quality; Transformation; Cleansing; Conditioning; Specific data type issues; Transformation methods

Data Loading

How to identify what has changed; Snapshot vs. detail data; Full Refresh vs. Delta Capture; Load methodology; Load techniques

Querying the Data

Canned queries; Report writers; ROLAP and OLAP tools; Data visualisation; Drilldown analysis; End user training; Performance

Data Mining and Exploration

Data mining methodology; Data mining algorithms; Interpreting the output; Formulating a strategy

Operating and Maintaining the System

Processes and procedures; Change control; User and privilege administration; Service level agreements; Archive and recovery

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Why choose QA

Need to know

Frequently asked questions

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How do QA’s online courses work?

QA online courses, also commonly known as distance learning courses or elearning courses, take the form of interactive software designed for individual learning, but you will also have access to full support from our subject-matter experts for the duration of your course. When you book a QA online learning course you will receive immediate access to it through our e-learning platform and you can start to learn straight away, from any compatible device. Access to the online learning platform is valid for one year from the booking date.

All courses are built around case studies and presented in an engaging format, which includes storytelling elements, video, audio and humour. Every case study is supported by sample documents and a collection of Knowledge Nuggets that provide more in-depth detail on the wider processes.

When will I receive my joining instructions?

Joining instructions for QA courses are sent two weeks prior to the course start date, or immediately if the booking is confirmed within this timeframe. For course bookings made via QA but delivered by a third-party supplier, joining instructions are sent to attendees prior to the training course, but timescales vary depending on each supplier’s terms. Read more FAQs.

When will I receive my certificate?

Certificates of Achievement are issued at the end the course, either as a hard copy or via email. Read more here.

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