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How to Go From Good Problem to Best Solution – Data Democratization, the Right Way

Banner image for the article "How to go from Good Problem to Best Solution" by guest author, Jeff Byboth, Enterprise Data Manager, Protolabs. Banner also features Jeff's photo.

Jeff Byboth is the Enterprise Data Manager at Protolabs, a fabricator of dimensional parts for prototyping and low-volume production. Their success rests upon being nimble and exact, to ensure quick turns on precise parts that support customers across many industries.

In order to achieve their objectives, Protolabs developed a democratized business intelligence program that allowed virtually anyone within the company to access the data warehouse and create new data.

Jeff describes this as having a “Good Problem.” Cross-divisional access was certainly a good thing. The problem was that the system lacked data validation and source control, especially since updates were occurring just once a day – at the most. Protolabs needed to build a better data mousetrap.

Step One: Identify Today

After Protolabs reached out to SafeNet Consulting to discuss their situation, Program Manager Maryrose Mallari asked a simple two-part question: “Where are you now and where do you want to go?” From Mallari’s vast experience in navigating similar data democratization journeys, she knows that clearly identifying current-state problems is paramount to every project’s success.

Step Two: Define Tomorrow

With the big picture in clear focus, Protolabs and SafeNet worked together to define the end goal: To improve validation and data quality; data testing; automation in testing; source control; and version control to streamline production and better serve Protolabs’ customers.

Step Three: Form Team

Maryrose believes clients often see technology as just technology. She sees things differently, and explains “We introduce the technology into the client’s culture as something that becomes a part of their method.”

For Protolabs this was an ideal approach since Jeff’s internal Protolabs team had limited experience collaborating with an I.T. partner. According to Jeff “The relationship between our Protolabs developers and SafeNet’s project management, architect, developers and testing allowed us to collaborate and have full documentation throughout the process.”

Step Four: Implement Now

Maryrose and the SafeNet team implemented Azure as the technology foundation that would provide the structure needed to support Protolabs’ promotion process. Five distinct project sprints were established to deliver the desired audit ability, functionality and a universally-usable product.

By collaborating directly with Jeff and his central team, all players understood and appreciated how Azure would improve data quality and traceability across all Protolabs departments – including financial, design, testing, manufacturing and eCommerce. In the end, “Maryrose and her team were able to manage the project and achieve all the deliverables that were in the statement of work.

You can also watch the Protolabs video Case Story featuring Jeff and Maryrose here.

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