An ETL Proof of Concept: 5 Keys to Success

  • Mike Nixon, Solution Architect
  • February 5, 2020

What does a successful ETL proof of concept look like? It’s fast. It’s relatively painless. It shows tangible value that merits a larger implementation. And with the right strategy, it can be done at low cost–or even no cost–to your organization. 

For example, you can launch Matillion ETL from the AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure Marketplace and be live in less than five minutes. From there, it’s possible to complete a full proof of concept in 14 days. That’s well within the timeframe of the Matillion free trial, which can range from 14 to 30 days in length, depending on your cloud provider. (How do you run a PoC in 14 days? Check out our ebook, Your Guide to a Successful Proof of Concept.)

But how do you choose a use case? How can you ensure that the results will prove value to your stakeholders? And how can you be sure that you can keep your PoC streamlined and running smoothly so that you don’t end up running long or busting your budget?

Here are 5 things you can do before you start to help ensure that your ETL proof of concept will be a smashing success. 

1. Keep it simple

Remember that a proof of concept is a microcosm of a full implementation. Don’t go into your proof of concept trying to replicate or build your entire data warehouse. Or even part of it. Start small. 

How small is small? You want a project that you can easily implement and quantify with measurable results. Pick a sample data source, dimension, and fact that would illustrate a typical data flow. This type of use case will give you a good indication of how the product performs. For example, moving some Salesforce data from an on-premises warehouse to a cloud data warehouse and doing some simple transformations is a common proof of concept for Matillion ETL. 

2.  Do your research and make a plan

First, research and make decisions about the considerations that will go into your proof of concept:

  • Resources: in-house and external, team members and stakeholders 
  • Your technical architecture
  • The product itself: cost model, installation, maintainability
  • Evaluation and defining success

Are the right people involved? Will the product support your use cases, work within your environment, and yield value? These are things that are good to know before you go, and they will all be instrumental in creating your project plan.

3. Get stakeholder buy-in

It’s hard to kick off a proof of concepts without getting buy-in from the appropriate stakeholders. It an important step, and putting together a proposal is also a great way to help you get some answers to some important overlying questions that often go beyond logistics:

  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • Why this product or solution?
  • What are the real benefits for the business? Better productivity or decision making? Cost? Present your case in those terms. 

Making a business case for a proof of concept is also a forcing function for outlining the scope and making a detailed project plan that shows you’re serious about staying on time and in budget. 

If you’re not sure how to put together a proposal, we’ve put together a deck template that you can fill in with your own information or use as inspiration. 

4. Get input from your stakeholders

If you’re struggling to select a project, think about your stakeholders. What data and insights are most important to them? What project stands to deliver the highest value? Ask them. And use their answers to help define the project that best combines simplicity and importance to the business. 

5. Choose the right team

A proof of concept is only as successful as the team running it. Make sure you have a blue-chip roster of external support. Choose vendors with an excellent track record of support. Pick partners who are experienced in implementing your solutions, whether you are migrating data to the cloud, transforming it, or setting up cloud data analytics. 

Keep these 5 key steps in mind, and you’ll be ready to take the first step on your way to a successful ETL proof of concept. 

For more information about running a successful proof of concept, including a step-by-step 14-day plan, download our ebook, Your Guide to a Successful Proof of Concept