Sunday, October 19, 2008

Balancing your BI Strategy

For those of you that lead Business Intelligence teams or programs, you likely have encountered a big dilemma...  How can we move forward with a Business Intelligence strategy when there is such a big demand for information today?  In most organizations the demand for information far outstrips the resources available.  Information providers in an organization are consumed with resolving repeatable data quality issues, delivering endless cuts of information, and then delivering it again next month.

If we added up all the resources and time taken to keep pace with this flow, we would quickly see a lot of money being spent without delivering a lot of sustainable value.  I've seen this struggle manifest itself a number of times, and have found that it is possible to do both.  Not easy to balance, but possible.  There are 3 areas of focus that enable this:

  • Sell Business Value
  • Separate Resources
  • Deliver Incrementally
Sell Business Value

Due to the nature of Business Intelligence solutions, it is important to communicate the value of investing in long-term, sustainable solutions.  These business benefits can include a quicker turnaround on requests, more self service information, and higher data quality.  Find the benefits that fit your organization, and communicate to your key stakeholders.  You need to show what value you can deliver to their organization, and to the bottom line.

Separate Resources

As you communicate the value of strategic BI solutions to your stakeholders, also identify the need to dedicate resources to building these solutions.  Align on the number of resources that will be dedicated to building strategic solutions vs. resources dedicated to tactical response.  It is important to identify the impact of these decisions to the operational capacity that will now be available.

As you focus resources on building strategic solutions, ensure that communication tools and knowledge sharing exist between both sides of the organization, strategic and tactical.  Resources supporting tactical requirements have comprehensive knowledge of information requirements and can be a big asset in driving user adoption of the new solutions.

Deliver Incrementally

To quickly prove the value of this approach, you must deliver incremental solutions that deliver direct value to the organization.  Delivering using an agile approach will allow you to maintain your momentum and build a community around using BI tools.  Having architecture talent and good design processes will ensure that the incremental solutions build into a larger, enterprise view.

As part of your BI program or competency centre, communication and engagement with your user community is vital to deliver solutions that provide the maximum amount of value.  Finding a balance between operational support and strategic delivery will help you achieve the goals of your BI program.

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