The Damhof Four Quadrant Model And Recognition of Shadow IT In Data

The Damhof four quadrant model describes the ideal data flows in a Business Intelligence (BI) process. There exists a highly governed datawarehouse with high quality data in it, which can be pushed out to datamarts and operational data stores around the business. There is central reporting based on the data in the datawarehouse which the company uses to make business decisions. There is also less governed data sources all over the business, often in the form of Excel spreadsheets. It is perfectly acceptable to use these spreadsheets, just not to use them to make business decisions.

ideal data flows

In many companies there are teams of people responsible for getting data into the datawarehouse, and teams responsible for reporting and decisioning around the business, but no thought is made to the shadow IT systems that are in place - the lower two boxes of the Damhof four quadrant model. As the business matures, the top two quadrants become more and more important in terms of governance and the lower two quadrants need responding to.

It’s not that the lower two quadrants are unacceptable, far from it. They are a necessary part of any business - providing the freedom to play around with data and ideas and see what happens. What is unacceptable however, is when business processes and decisions start relying on the lower two quadrants.

I’m therefore suggesting we start structuring our data teams around this acceptance of the lower two quadrants. That we hire teams whose responsibility it is to take the experiments and turn them into more governed and trustworthy processes.

data teams

Let’s accept that we can move fast in the lower quadrants, but let’s also provide the resources to bring the successes into the more governed world of datawarehouses and proper reporting and dashboarding.

By introducing iii-i and iv-ii teams we can reduce risk across the company by simultaneously encouraging the shadow IT operations and their experiments that show results quickly and without huge costs and also providing a structure for adding governance to the successful ones.