How to Build a Data Warehouse for Small- to Medium-Size Rental Businesses

As data warehousing tools get better, easier to use and more accessible, it is making the realization of organized and functional data sources achievable for more businesses.

You may have heard the term “data warehousing” in relation to your information and technological needs, but what does this mean and what can it do for your rental business?

Data warehousing is simply a method of storing a business’s data in a way that is prepared for reporting and analysis needs, rather than the storage formats of software systems. As data warehousing tools get better, easier to use and more accessible, it is making the realization of organized and functional data sources achievable for more businesses. 

Find out what it means

Rental companies typically have data originating from multiple sources, such as mobile input devices, telemetry from equipment in the field, operations software and accounting systems. The challenge is to get all of these data stores into the same format where they can be meaningfully linked together and accessed to present a picture of a business’s performance. The data warehouse process creates another set of data that removes it from the transactional storage required by each individual system and builds a new format that is better suited for reporting and analysis.

Protect and preserve

Data is also protected from the ongoing transaction processing by transferring it to the data warehouse. This new dataset is usually appended to on a frequent basis, daily or weekly, so an accurate record of how data is entered can be preserved.

Make it simple

Efficiency of data systems can also be achieved by moving the reporting and analysis functions away from the originating systems. This keeps the analytical users from tying up processor and memory resources on the transactional users. Additional processing can also be done to summarize and calculate required data that may not be present in the transactional system, thereby making the final reporting and result compilations quicker and easier to manage.

How to get started:

1. Determine needs - When planning to implement a data warehouse, it is necessary to determine a set of results to be achieved. These may include items such as determining number of hours equipment has been utilized between scheduled maintenance events, number of days equipment has been in field versus number of days billed to customer, average rental rate billed versus book rate, rental revenue of top rental customers, etc.

2. Inspect and analyze - Once the desired results are defined, inspection and analysis of the raw data in each system must be done to determine how to stage the data for movement to the warehouse. This may include looking for invalid date entries, incorrect product numbers, missing pay key requirements, etc. These can be handled as part of the daily or weekly staging processes.

3. Build it - Once data is staged properly, the components of the data warehouse are built according to what data is required for storage, the format and how it can be filtered or searched.

4. Connect - Lastly, users select the desired software tools to connect to the data warehouse to provide results via formats such as reports, web pages, email or dashboards. 

With the proper tools and planning, data warehousing can help businesses by creating a single point of reporting for all data sources, reducing the strain on systems used for data collection, creating a standard set of business rules for data formatting and use and a consistent format for delivering results to its users.