A notification of an exception condition that is pushed to the user (usually via email) rather than them having to go to a portal and pull it.


An iterative and rapid exploration of data. Most analysis uses OLAP technology and relies on drilldown and slicing and dicing by various dimensions and their hierarchies.


A collection of mostly graphical indicators of current performance. A dashboard provides a quick indication that things are running within expected bounds. Dashboards tend to focus on the day to day operational activities that must be monitored for ongoing business performance.

Data Mart

A subset of a data warehouse that has been structured and/or supplemented in order to facilitate reporting and analysis.

Data Warehouse

A repository (usually in a database) of information from various source systems


A dimension table is a type of database table used in Dimensional Data Modeling. A dimension table contains a set of related attributes about an entity such as Product, Customer or Vendor. For example, a Customer dimension might contain attributes for customer name, address and territory.

Dimensional Data Modeling

A set of data modeling practices developed particularly for data warehouses and data marts to facilitate information retrieval. The core principles include the use of Fact and Dimension tables organized in a Star Schema.


A metric that is a driver of other activities or costs. For example, hospital admittance volume may be a driver of hospital cleaning cost. Another example is that Outbound Marketing Calls may be a driver of lead creation.


ETL stands for Extraction, Transformation and Loading. This is the process of extracting data from source systems, transforming the data into a Star Schema format and loading it into a data mart or data warehouse. There are specific software tools that help facilitate the ETL process such as IBM Cognos Data Manager or Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS.)


A fact table is a type of database table used in Dimensional Data Modeling. Fact tables contain only foreign keys to Dimension tables and attributes related directly to the intersection of those foreign keys. Typically there will be one row in a fact table for each transaction of a specific type. For example, there would be one row in the Sales Fact table for each sales transaction. It might contain foreign keys to Dimensions such as Date, Product and Customer as well as attributes for Amount, Quantity and Cost.


A metric is a measurement that can be quantified as a number or score and compared against a target or goal.


Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools are a class of analysis tools that work with pre-summarized aggregates of data. There are different flavors of OLAP including Multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP), Relational OLAP (ROLAP) and Hybrid OLAP (HOLAP.) There are a number of software products that provide OLAP capability including IBM Cognos PowerPlay and Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (MSAS.) Check our blog for advanced tips on building OLAP cubes for IBM Cognos PowerPlay.


A report is a set of business information organized for a particular purpose.


A scorecard indicates performance of metrics against targets over a time period. Scorecards are generally used more for tracking performance against strategic initiatives than for measuring day to day operational performance. The more routine operational performance tends to be measured using Dashboards. Scorecards also measure performance over multiple areas and are focused on specific individuals or teams.

Trusted Information

This is information that has been proven to be consistent over time and is sourced or derived in clearly documented ways.