DBT : Embracing Incrementalism in DBT: A Comprehensive Guide to Benefits, Challenges, and Ensuring Data Consistency


This article delves into the benefits, challenges, and considerations of incremental models in DBT, specifically addressing data consistency, slowly changing dimensions (SCD), and data anomaly detection.

Data processing and transformation are integral parts of modern analytics, and efficiency is paramount in handling large datasets. Incremental models in DBT provide a means to achieve this efficiency. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of adopting incremental models and discuss key considerations for maintaining data integrity, including the management of slowly changing dimensions (SCD) and anomaly detection.

1. Benefits of Incremental Models

Incremental models allow data transformation to process only new or changed data since the last run. This approach offers several advantages:


Example: If you have a table with billions of rows, processing the entire dataset daily can be time-consuming. Incremental models enable you to process only the newly added rows, significantly reducing processing time.

Reduced Resource Utilization

Example: Incremental processing means less computational power, leading to cost savings in cloud-based environments.

2. Challenges of Incremental Models

Despite the benefits, incremental models pose certain challenges:

Complexity in Handling Updates and Deletions

Example: Tracking updates or deletions can be complex. If a record changes in the source data, identifying and reflecting that change in the transformed data requires careful design.

Potential Data Inconsistencies

Example: Without proper validation, incremental models might lead to inconsistencies between the transformed data and the source data.

3. Ensuring Data Consistency

Ensuring data consistency in incremental models is paramount. Key considerations include:

Managing Slowly Changing Dimensions (SCD)

SCD Type 2 Example: Consider an employee’s department change. Using an SCD Type 2 approach, you would keep historical records of the employee in each department. This allows tracking changes over time without losing historical information.

Detecting Data Anomalies

Example: Implementing anomaly detection methods, such as standard deviation checks or outlier analysis, helps identify unexpected changes in the data pattern. This can be crucial for detecting errors in incremental processing.

4. Incremental Models in Practice

Implementing incremental models in DBT requires a thoughtful approach that balances the efficiencies gained with the complexity introduced. Ensuring data consistency is a critical component, requiring mechanisms to handle slowly changing dimensions and detect anomalies.

Get more useful articles on dbt

  1. ,
Author: user

Leave a Reply