We take a look at seven things that companies should have for a successful implementation of business intelligence (BI) projects. BI has proved itself as one of the best ways to improve business efficiency and performance. Leading companies across many industries have already turned to BI tools to solve a variety of tasks.
Despite this, the failure rate of BI implementation projects is huge. According to Gartner, between 70 and 80 percent of BI projects fail. Below are seven things that companies can do to avoid a failure.
1. BI integration plan
The availability of a concrete plan of action is crucial for any project. This is especially important for companies without prior experience in a large-scale software integration process. The plan should not only include all the integration stages, but also have a clear understanding of business requirement. The project should have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what, when and how. The plan must also define all key metrics of a project and have a clear success criteria.
Finding and clearly defining the “why” factor is another important part of the plan. Everyone in a company should know why the company is doing the project and how BI would help them.
2. Senior management support for BI project
Along with a good, workable plan, any large-scale project must 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 and strategy.
If there is not enough top management support for a project, it may be put on the back burner or canceled altogether. Most BI projects are expensive and would require the financing of resources for software, hardware, labor, training and ongoing support. This money will have to come from elsewhere within a company. This means the project must be high on the agenda and senior executive should sponsor it.
3. Starting small, being agile
After a project team develops a plan, define metrics and gets management’s support, the implementation process can begin. At this stage, it is a good practice to start small and use the agile project management methodologies.
This will help users to see quick wins and discover potential obstacles right away. The team can then quickly tackle these problems. If everything goes well, the team can eventually scale up the integration method.
By taking small steps and setting up short deadlines, the team can help to monitor a project’s progress more clearly. Large-scale projects, especially those without a detailed plan, can seem never ending and cause demotivation, stress and higher costs.
4. Cultivating data culture
It is extremely important that everyone in an organization is on the same page. Otherwise, it is a sure recipe for disaster. That is why after getting a buy-in from everyone in a team, management should start developing data culture within a company.
Data culture refers to a workplace environment, in which employees make decisions based on data and not on instincts or past experiences. This may be a challenge and would require some dramatic changes in the organization. However, in the long run everyone would benefit from it.
5. Establishing proper data governance
Together with the development of data culture, a company must establish correct data governance and architecture. Before implementing a BI project, an organization should set up processes of how to gather data, store, clean, and use.
6. Training plan
Upon completion of a BI project, its longevity and effectiveness would depend largely on a skillset of those using the solution. It is vital that everyone learns how to use new tools. Meanwhile, management’s responsibility is to set up a training plan.
With the launch of an enterprise-wide BI solution, organizational structures will most likely change with new roles and sometimes even departments being created. These changes mean that a series of training sessions to get staff acquainted with the new tools, as well as a solid long-term training plan must be set in place.
Without adequate training, a project will fail, as both end-users and even IT staff would soon feel overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with new technology and challenges that it presents.
Closely related to everything else that was mentioned is clear communication between all project stakeholders. Oftentimes, there is a misunderstanding and communication breach between end business users and IT, as the two sides may see one project from different angles, have contrasting objectives and expect different results.
For example, when selecting a solution, business users may prioritize the ease of use, speed, clear information delivery, whereas IT professionals would be more concerned with security, data control and the ease of integration. If the two sides fail to sit down and discuss what exactly they want from a solution, a project will collapse early.
One way to avoid this would be to approach a company that can integrate both business and IT needs. In the finance industry, Centida is one of these few specialized niche firms that follow the principle of “from finance practitioners to finance practitioners.” Our advisory services focus on the improvement of operational, day-to-day activities in finance and controlling departments. Unlike many integrator-type companies, Centida consultants are not simply IT-specialists; they successfully combine the science of BI with the art of finance to bring full service when managing BI projects.