Posted on February 28th, 2013 by Vikram Kole

What is Required to Start a Business Intelligence project in an Organization?

BI turns data into actionable information which support business in strategic decision making. Business Intelligence (BI) project assumes to be integrated with Data Warehouse or other reporting solution like data repository or reporting from legacy systems. So how should any company get started with BI? From Business perspective, business intelligence is more than just software; it is a strategy with specific supporting management processes. Prior to implementing a business intelligence initiative, organizations need to have an understanding of the following five elements.

1. Why Business Intelligence :

A clear answer to the question ‘What do we expect from a BI Project?’ can be the best possible beginning to any BI project. It is important to have a fundamental understanding of business intelligence (BI) & how to adopt it to become useful for business. The choice of the BI Solution, Vendor & Strategy for implementing BI projects can greatly differ based on the outcomes and benefits sought from the initiative. In short need to define the organization’s BI Philosophy with their strategic goals & Translate Strategy into Action. The communication of strategic goals and data collection is critical to successful BI.

2. Importance of Internal Requirements :

It is of crucial importance to have a detailed understanding of current business methods and practices to determine specific objectives for BI implementation. The user requirements drive decisions about the data to incorporate in the data warehouse, how to organize (dimension) the data and how often to refresh the data. It is critical that you carefully analyze requirements defined to align them with the business needs. More Business oriented approach can be surprisingly helpful than the technical questions related to analysis and will always yield better results.

3. Key Stakeholder Involvement :

BI being an enterprise-wide initiative there are many key stakeholders. The sooner you involve Top Management, Business User, Operations etc. the better you know about your requirements. Stakeholder involvement ensures full knowledge and understanding of the benefits, impacts and risks associated with BI Implementation. Effective stakeholder engagement is a key ingredient in the success of BI Implementation Project. While internal requirements of an organization are a primary focus, a BI project must consider important external factors such as needs of customers, market situation or customer’s behavior. BI project is organization-wide project, it should involve members from each department especially from Marketing and Sales departments who are familiar with external environment as well as internal factors.

4. Data Strategy for Analysis and Reporting :

In any organization, Data is a major asset and thus data quality is of utmost importance. BI typically involves the analysis and reporting of information to Business users via accessing data repositories. Business intelligence software promises better decision making and insight into company data, but both are possible with unbridled access to the information stored in a database. If you want to increase competitiveness, need to improve access to data across all levels of the company. Develop & implement a data strategy in such a way that it should not frustrate users. Formulate an overall data strategy by asking relevant questions.

5. Choose Right Technology :

The most important part to make sure BI initiative success is to choose the right Technology. BI initiatives are vastly different from many other IT initiatives in which outside services have been retained. So it’s important to consider proven capability, reputation and track record of success along with cost effectiveness, implementation time frames etc. while evaluating a solution. Other key aspects are the ease of use and training requirements as BI project will have enterprise-wide user base. Also, the partner should be able to understand and align with your organizational strategy, take a business-driven approach and support the execution of specific initiatives to meet your business vision.

Starting small (POC/section) is a good way to understand BI benefits. POC, is a formal initiative to prove the viability of the technology as well as partner capability to meet a business defined requirement. Be aware of technology lock-in and know the cost of “getting out”.

Beginning with BI in an Organization

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