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Consultants’ Perspective on Why BI Projects Fail

by | Feb 24, 2020 | Articles

We spoke a lot about the benefits of using business intelligence (BI) and how it can improve the work of different department within companies, including the sales, marketing, human resources and finance. Once properly implemented, a BI solution can increase competitive advantage, boost revenues, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction; however, when wrongly conducted, a BI project can be like navigating through maze – a lack of financial support, poor communication and organizational barriers can easily lead to failures.

In fact, the failure rate of BI implementation projects is anywhere between 70 and 80 percent, according to Gartner. In one of our previous articles, we discussed several steps that companies should take to roll out a successful BI project. In this article, we will look at implementation problems from a BI consultant’s point of view and discuss most common problems that companies encounter during implementation projects.

According to a survey provided by the BI Survey website, the top 5 most serious problems that consultants come across are poor data quality (32 percent), company politics (26 percent), lack of interest from business users and poor data governance (21 percent), and administrative problems (19 percent).

The importance of having good data quality and proper data management processes cannot be overemphasized – at the end of the day, we can only make the right decisions if our data is correct. Poor quality data is essentially useless and in the worst-case scenario it can even be dangerous. Poor data governance in a company produces poor quality data; therefore, these two problems are inter-related and can be discussed together.

When it comes to implementing a BI solution in companies with poor quality data, a number of hidden challenges for consultants may appear. For example, there may be multiple data copies created and it will take a long time to find them, figure out and clean up. Employees may even know about it and therefore do not trust their own data. As a result, they may not even want to work with a BI project. This leads to other problems mentioned in the survey.

Healthy working relationships between business leaders, IT specialists, functional departments’ staff and BI project managers are necessary to drive the changes for success. A BI implementation project requires constant communication, collaboration and engagement of all stakeholders.  If there is distrust, perceived competition for funding or a lack of shared sense of ownership among BI project participants, a project is doomed to failure from the start.

A successful BI project must also have the full support of a company’s upper management. It does not necessarily have to be a CEO, but someone who is in a senior enough position to communicate a high-level vision, strategy and benefits of an upcoming BI project. Most BI projects are expensive and would require the financing of resources for software, hardware, labor, training and ongoing support. This funding may have to be taken from elsewhere within a company, which means the project must be high on the agenda and overseen by a senior executive.

People are the creatures of habit and this sometimes may create difficulties when trying to implement new solutions in companies. The problem of the lack of interest from business users may indicate that there is a steep learning curve and / or software isn’t user-friendly enough. These objections can be reduced by providing more training and showing demos with the benefits of new software. Another factor that could possibly increase the interest of business users is the rising popularity of easy-to-use and low-cost self-service BI tools, such as Power BI, which is very similar to Excel.

Lastly, when business users say that they aren’t interested in new software solutions, it could be because of their unwillingness to deal with IT staff. Oftentimes, there is a communication gap between techie guys at IT and staff at functional departments, as the former group may not understand the needs of the latter, and vice versa. A simple request like pulling out a report from a cloud service may be forgotten or deemed too easy and ignored by IT staff, meanwhile an accountant’s work is stalling and because of that he or she is staying late at work. That is why, business users often prefer to do things the old way, even if it means copying and pasting Excel rows manually.

To avoid this problem, choosing the right consultant is essential. For example, when implementing a BI project in a finance department, a consultant, who can “speak finance”, knows Excel and understands the pain of budgeting, can be the difference between success and failure.

Centida is one these few firms that combines the IT expertise and finance experience. We follow the principle of “from finance practitioners to finance practitioners”, focusing on the improvement of operational, day-to-day activities in finance and controlling departments with the use of modern BI solutions. If your company is looking to speed up budgeting processes and improve reporting, please feel free to get in touch with us at info@centida.com.

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