How do you drill?

In the hard physical world there are standard tools available that can do the job easily. For e.g a Screw Driver can drill holes in the wall, wood and wherever it says it can. Similarly there are pressurized Air Guns available that do similar job in road and building construction.

But in the soft world drilling is not so straightforward. When the client asks I want to drill to details then that’s not good enough. Your counter questions are what is the source, target, parameters, context blah blah blah… The counter questions are not an exuse to buy time but the fact is even the client doesn’t know how the data is stored, aggregated and seggregated.

I guess drilling is a process where you aggregate the details to a higher level and then try to figure out a way to reach back to the details using a different route.


Let us take an example. For e.g most of the BI effort is around dealing General Ledger Data. GL is the big boss, everybody including AR, AP, PO, INV, WIP and remaining subledgers report to GL in one way or the other. That’s the true essence of ERP. So no matter how each of the SL (subledger) operate or manipulate transactions every SL reports their status to GL in a standard manner for GL to understand.

Each subledger when they send details to GL they get created into Journal Entries and when the Journals are posted they get summarized to GL Balances. So you may say GL Balance is the final boss but things don’t end here.

Executives, Managers etc don’t readily understand the data in GL Balances. Since the data in GL_balances is dimensioned by Company, department, account, product etc it makes it a little hard to comprehend by all the dimensions at once. So they build data warehouse and cubes around this GL Balances so that they can see and analyse by one dimension at a time.


Now atleast the first problem of understanding the data is resolved but this creates another problem. How do I know what makes up this data, where is this data coming from and so on. In short everybody loves and wants the ability to zoom in and zoom out of any information at any level they ask for at a click of a button. This makes drilling in soft world complicated (if not tougher) than drilling in the physical world.


In a later post we will see how to drill from GL to subledgers in more detail.


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