Embarking on a business intelligence (BI) project can be intimidating.
For many organizations, it’s new territory – a major step beyond simple reporting. A BI project shares many of the same characteristics as more traditional IT projects. However, there are aspects of the BI project that can be leveraged to help make the process and deployment a success.
Similar to an IT project, the BI initiative requires the support and commitment from the C-level corner office. The importance of the project to the organization needs to be stressed from above. Like an IT project there will be a project team composed of the key stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs). It’s important that the individuals on the team not only bring their knowledge and experience to the project, but also have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the users in the areas that they represent. And just like the typical project, there will be regularly scheduled status meetings and updates to the overall project timeline.
A key characteristic that differentiates the BI project from a traditional IT project is that with the IT project, we’re typically automating a known process – taking an order, applying cash, performing an inventory adjustment transaction, generating a report. With BI, we’re providing the data repository and the application / infrastructure to the user. At the extreme, what the users do with that data is not part of the project. Yes, we will probably have examples of the types of reports/analysis that the user community is interested in. But it’s the users that will ultimately determine their needs.
An aspect of the BI project that can be leveraged to our advantage during the implementation is the fact that it is an on-going or iterative process. Unlike the more traditional IT project, the entire BI infrastructure does not need to be in-place to provide benefit to the organization. Start with one functional area – typically companies start with the Sales organization – and then move on to the next area. By starting with a focused area, you can achieve some of the following benefits:
When starting the BI project, keep the following in mind to ‘jump start’ the implementation:
The value that business intelligence can provide a company in today’s challenging environment is unquestioned. With the explosion of data from a variety of sources, having a BI infrastructure in place to support the analysis needs of the organization is more important than ever before.
However, implementing a BI solution can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your company’s first experience in this area. Keeping in mind some of the simple steps outlined and an iterative ‘build on success’ approach, the BI project can provide quick results and long term benefits.
Looking for more information on business intelligence? Explore our side-by-side comparison of the best BI platforms in the Business-Software.com Top 10 Business Intelligence Software report.