Self-Service BI: Barriers of Deployment and How to Overcome Them

by | Jul 13, 2020 | Articles

Self-service BI tools are quickly becoming the pillars of success in companies across the world. In today’s competitive environment, the successful deployment of a self-service BI project can be the difference between winning and losing

By putting the analytical power into the hands of business users, companies can become more flexible. Self-service BI gives business users an opportunity to run their own queries, analyze data, build reports, and focus on most relevant insights in business. The best part is that business users can do all these things with minimal efforts from IT departments.

This sounds great and promising. However, before companies rush into BI deployment, they need to make sure a few important requirements are met.

Most companies are not ready for BI deployment

The biggest challenges in the deployment of self-service BI are organizational readiness, data quality and governance.

“Most organizations are not ready for it,” said Brian Moffo, a project director at the software vendor IPipeline Inc., as cited by TechTarget.

Prior to deployment, companies need to establish right processes that enable proper training and good data governance. These processes can then scale up to a full-scale enterprise-level BI program.

It is an unwise decision to simply introduce and turn on the data valve in an unprepared environment. For example, one could create different exploratory versions of data and incorrectly mark them as “truth”. Then publish it as facts, which would lead to misinformation and potential trouble.

Best practices in BI deployment

Find some key best practices below for self-service BI deployment projects. These will help your company to go through the process without major issues.

  • Different companies have different needs and objectives. As a result, there are different ways to deliver BI projects to them. What will work for a medium-sized company with strong data culture may not be suitable for a large enterprise. That is why knowing your objectives is the important first step.
  • Before deployment, critically assess the maturity of your IT department. Some self-service concepts can be quite challenging for IT departments. IT specialists understand what exactly is expected from them and how they are going to deliver it. 
  • Although the key idea behind self-service BI is autonomy of users, self-service is not anarchy and it must be controlled. Monitoring and controlling is an essential part of the deployment process. Things can quickly get out of hand, if not carefully managed. Self-service does not mean managing data without the IT department. Instead, it’s about freeing the IT departments from repetitive tasks. This way, the IT department could focus more on complex data governance, security, and architecture processes.
  • Cultivating data culture within an organization is a must. It’s important to provide diverse trainings and create a learning environment for everyone. Ultimately, if users do not feel comfortable using new software, even best tools will not be adopted. No training, no adoption.
  • It is important to constantly provide support and develop power-user culture within departments. Analysts from functional department know their data best. That is why they should take the lead in building visualizations and data models. Meanwhile, IT staff can handle the back end and overall infrastructure. From there, one should identify power users within each business unit. 
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