How to make your BI project a success

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A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on why most BI projects end up in the trash. In it, I identified the reasons behind the high failure rate of BI projects.

After reading the post, one of my colleagues asked me to write about how to make a BI project successful. Great idea! So that is what I’m going to cover in this post.

Right Motivation

Source: Timo Elliott’s Blog

To make a BI project a success, you or the people who initiate the project must have the right motivation to implement a BI framework. You need to clearly outline the reasons why your organization needs a BI solution and what your business can achieve with it. Do some research on how successful BI projects have increased company revenue and efficiency in the industry. This will help you figure out if it is worth the time and effort or not. If a company started a BI project just because they have the budget for it or because they hear the terms “BI” and “Big Data” everywhere and want to keep up with the Joneses, the project will never be a success.

Right understanding

Source: Loyalty Bay Blog

Once you have the right motivation, the next important thing is to educate business users and decision makers about it. Basically, these are the folks who make the final decision on whether a BI solution is needed or not. Plus, they decide who is going to use it in their decision-making processes. Therefore, they should have clear goals for the BI system and outline what business insights they want to obtain from it. I have seen business users waste a good BI platform as a mere reporting tool, but if used in the right way they could use it to resolve a lot of problems in the organization.

Right People

Source: Smashing Magazines

This is the most important success factor in a BI project. From the beginning to the end of the project, it’s people who will decide its fate.

The C-level is the initial line of decision-makers. They need to decide whether to invest in BI on not. After the project goes live, the C-level may need to make it mandatory for users to use the new system to make decisions. This is because users might prefer older, more fallible methods in decision-making such as manual spreadsheets and “intuition”.

After this, business users must commit to the project through all phases, especially in the requirement-gathering and UAT phases. In the requirement -gathering phase, it is imperative that you pick a user who 1) Has in-depth understanding of how the business works and 2) Has a clear understanding of how the BI system will benefit the business. Additionally, these users need to actively use the system and will need to provide continuous feedback to improve on it.

Next up is the IT team, which will help with data. The IT team needs to have people who have BI-system experience and technical know-how.

Right Tools

Source: Licensing Consulting Group

You need to have the right tools and technologies in place to make the BI project a success. These tools should be affordable and within budget, because the directors or the C-level could completely scrap the BI project if it’s too expensive. Plus, these tools should be user-friendly. Most users will not have technical expertise, and the tools should accommodate their ability to perform their tasks efficiently and successfully. The result should be a BI platform that is easy to use.

Right training

Source: Cerpen

This is important – adequate training MUST be both available and accessible to business users. The cool features and functionalities of the BI system can be undermined by complexity, so good training plays a very important role here. In the UAT phase, prior to production, you will have to train users on how to use the new BI system, and how they can extract actionable insights from it. Trainings should be ongoing until all users are comfortable and confident in using the system without supervision and minimal error.

Right Culture

Source: marketoonist

Last, the culture of the organization has to be BI-friendly. In other words, since BI is all about making data more user-friendly, your organization needs to be a data-driven organization, and if it is not, it needs to become one. This requires a cultural change within the business. This is a company-wide endeavor, spearheaded by the leadership team, department heads, and the IT team.

So here you go! I’ve outlined the major components to consider in making BI a success in your organization. Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know what you think by commenting below.

Author:
Asanka Padmakumara 

Consultant – Business Intelligence

Asanka has more than eight years’ experience in the software industry with much of his latter years focused on business intelligence. His skill repertoire includes across-the-board experience working with Microsoft BI technologies, developing dashboards and delivering solutions in the banking, telco, apparel FMCG, and healthcare domains.