Benefits of a time-based ad hoc query solution

Adopting the ZION approach to ensure faster turnaround time for an ad hoc query results in numerous business and IT benefits.

While the first part provided a solution for rapid response to an ad hoc query, the second part illustrates the manifold benefits and management of the same. 

Change in the business process requirement 

Currently, there exists no distinction between a business request for standard and ad hoc query reporting requirement. Hence, all steps required for normal delivery are followed, thereby resulting in a higher turnaround time. In the current process flow, once a business user sends a request, it is added to the backlog, which is reviewed by the project manager, followed by assignment of a feasibility analyst talking to business and getting the required details for prioritization. The prioritization committee hands it over to the IT team for various developments and testing. Since prioritization needs to be done only by LOB managers, the business is able to get its answers faster. Also elaborate testing is not required as 70% of this non-standard ad hoc query requirement may not move to production.

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ZION governance and solution graduation process

 ZION governance will look into the various solutions developed by the IT team and supported by the enterprise IT team. The governance process will formulate the various checks and balances required for effective functioning of the ZION environment. The governance team will also ensure that non-standard solutions delivered to the ad hoc queries are eventually graduated to standard solutions or discarded when the time box closes.

The solution graduation process defines the mechanism, by which the business solutions are designed and developed in ZION and moved to the production environment with proper validations. This is required as eventually IT is responsible for maintaining the standard information requirement. The solution graduation process also ensures that any non-standard business solution does not move into the production environment, thereby resulting in maintainability issues.

There are primarily three factions in the ZION governance process:

  1. ZION guardians
  2. Enterprise IT team
  3. ZION IT team

The roles and responsibilities of these factions and how they support the solution graduation process are as follows.

Enterprise IT Team

 •   Ensure metadata is captured for each ZION solution

 •   Ensure access violations are closed

 •   Ensure tracking is enabled for visibility of usage

 •   Ensure configuration management for ZION solutions

 •  Ensure the solution graduation process is agreed upon before a new solution begins



 •   Ensure that access management is in place

 •   Audit ZION environment to ensure compliance

 •   Ensure the ZION solutions are moved to production within the agreed upon time box

 •   Ensure the ZION access is time boxed


ZION Guardians

•   Facilitate graduation of ZION solutions to production

•   Ensure the ZION solutions are following naming standards

•   Ensure ZION access is time boxed and solutions are moved to production

•   Monitor categories of request for ZION reporting solutions


Information Solution Council

•      Access the utilization of  ZION environment

•      Get exceptions when required and appropriate

•      Define and access the effectiveness of ZION governance

Like any other solution, the ZION model used for an ad hoc query also has potential risks associated with it. However, these can be mitigated as shown in the table below:


               Potential risk

                                 Mitigation plan

 ZION solution may not be mature         enough to be moved to production

 Leverage the migration process for any solution exceeding the time box and discard immature solutions.

 Data model performance and un-optimized queries could impact the database and reporting platforms

 ZION IT team can consult the enterprise IT team for complex solutions.

 Space constraints on database and reporting platforms may arise as multiple ZION solutions crop up

 Make the time box more stringent and the solution graduation process more robust. Metadata of the ZION solution needs to be graduated.

 Since ZION and production  environments are setup in the same platform, ensuring exclusivity becomes difficult

 Make separate ZION and production environments, if required.

Benefits of ZION approach

The ZION environment results in business and IT benefits, as stated below:

Business benefits:

i.  Faster turnaround time.

ii. IT aligned with LOB; thus, for non-standard requirement, each LOB doesn’t have to compete with enterprise level priorities.

iii. LOB managers will have authority to prioritize anything within their LOB.

iv. After a non-standard solution graduates to production, it enjoys elaborate IT support as any other standard solution.

IT benefits:

i.  IT has complete ownership of the information solutions.

ii.  Enterprise IT doesn’t have to have work on non-standard requirement, thus having more time for standard reporting requirement.

iii. With the time-boxed access, probability of having a non-standard requirement is feeble.

Balancing business and IT

The challenges faced by organizations in managing the ever-changing business requirements and capabilities required for ad-hoc reporting compel one to think out of the box. The right balance is in ensuring the management of a process oriented, controlled environment of BI reporting and ability to provide business with a boost in ad-hoc reporting, which cannot be directly catered by EDW.

The idea behind the ZION approach is to ensure time-boxed access to an ad-hoc query and build a strong process towards production migration for such ongoing reporting needs. This approach is expected to provide business with a unique innovation lab where new discoveries can be made to give an organization the power to exploit its values underlying in the data, not directly exposed via the EDW or reporting environments. This approach strikes the right balance between business and IT, without any compromise in the quality of information reported.


1.      ZION is a fictional city in The Matrix films -

About the Authors:

1. Nirupam Acharya is a project manager with Systems Integration - BI team at Infosys Technologies Ltd., in Richmond-Virginia, USA. He specializes in Agile BI DW implementation, BI process optimization, open source BI implementation, and non-linear pricing of BI. Nirupam can be reached at

2. Yogesh Bhatt is a principal architect, Information Management Consulting team of SETLabs, at Infosys Technologies Ltd., in Pune, India. He specializes in BI and data warehousing, corporate performance management, data management, IM architecture, and framework. Yogesh can be reached at


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