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Importance of a Business Intelligence (BI) Strategy

When an organisation embarks on a BI journey, the initial focus is usually on the technology choices.  What is often forgotten is the end game of any BI system – organisational change.  A business intelligence strategy will put in place the necessary framework to ensure a successful and widely adopted BI system that seamlessly integrates into the business’s decision making process, irrespective of the technology that supports it.

The most technically excellent and well designed BI system can be a complete failure if the wider business context is not taken into account.

The lack of a BI strategy is one of the biggest flaws and causes of failure in BI implementations.  In one often cited study, less than 10% of Australian organisations that use BI have a documented BI strategy.  This begs the question, how many users of BI are actually successful users of BI?

This is not to discount the value of an objective review of available technologies and their pros and cons, but it must not take centre stage.  This shift in focus from ‘issues of technology’ to ‘issues of culture’ is important for anyone charged with steering the organisation’s significant investment in BI solutions.

A poor BI implementation is rarely due to technological problems.  So what are the key components of a BI strategy that should be considered from the outset?

BI Strategy Keys to Success

Sponsorship

Who is supporting BI in the organisation and why are they doing it?
How is BI being funded?
What is expected of the sponsor?

Business Value Assessment

Why are we implementing BI?
What is the business justification and what do we expect to get out of BI?
How does BI align with our corporate strategic objectives?

Governance

What organisational structures are in place to control BI?
How are user interests represented?
How do we agree that we are building the right things to deliver value?

Architecture

What BI platform will we be using?
Where is the data being sourced from?
How is data quality being addressed?

Methodologies

How are users engaged in the process?
How will we get requirements and prototype?
What project management method will be applied?

Skills

Who will be doing the development?
Can we use or train internal staff?
What areas will we need outside help with?

Carefully read that table again.  Technology is only directly related to the architecture of a BI system.  If you are only thinking of software products and platforms you are leaving everything else to chance.

BI Strategy Phases

When building a strategy, there are 3 distinct phases:

BI Roadmap

Current State

When engaging in any type of planning, it is very important to determine the current state.  We do this via a situational analysis.  This takes the form of surveys, interviews and technical analysis with stakeholders to determine the way things are right now in each of the important areas outlined previously.

Desired State

A series of customer specific workshops are then held where the current state is discussed and a desired state outlined and documented.  We also analyse what the opportunities are for BI in the organisation.  This becomes your BI vision.

How do we get there?

At this point, we conduct a gap analysis.  This determines what is the delta between the current and desired state, which can then provide an outline or set of small initiatives for steps towards the vision.  This essentially becomes your roadmap, which can be presented to the wider organisation and also demonstrates roughly when things will happen, and can also make it clear that certain things may not happen.  It sets expectations.

QMetrix can help you design and execute a Business Intelligence Strategy

Having a strategy can help your projects stay on track, engage your stakeholders and show that you have a real plan for success.  Setting up a strategy doesn’t have to be a large and expensive exercise and its value can be easily seen by giving you a clear vision and roadmap, whether you are a small, medium or large organisation.

QMetrix has the expertise to partner up with you to ensure that you get maximum value from your investment in business intelligence.

Call us on 1300 785 336 or email us to get in touch.