We want to formalize a business intelligence (BI) program. Where do we start?
Well, first let me offer a hearty “Congratulations! And God bless…” You’ll have to do a lot of work to establish a sustainable BI environment. But here are some dos and one don’t for starting a BI program:
1. Be sure to mention the initial business problem(s) you’ll be addressing in conjunction with announcing your BI program to the organization. Executives and business users aren’t interested in a BI program per se. They’re interested in how you’re going to help make their jobs easier and save the company money. So be ready with the answer to this question: “What’s the problem you’ll be solving with BI?” Hint: Ideally, there will be multiple answers.
2. Do a little discovery. You probably already have an idea of what the business needs from a formal, sanctioned BI effort. But you might have only heard from the so-called “squeaky wheels.” If you have the luxury of meeting with various parts of the organization and inventorying their analytics and reporting requirements, do it. Engage a consultant for help with structured questions and needs prioritization. But make it clear that you’re not just pandering to finance or marketing and that BI is an enterprise-wide set of efforts.
3. Don’t hang out your shingle too early. We’ve seen a lot of people who are setting up BI programs do big, splashy internal roadshows. One client of mine actually enlisted our help in creating a BI program logo before they’d even identified the first analytics application to be deployed. Avoid the temptation to announce the BI program in advance of being able to deliver value. When you are ready to announce it, don’t talk about vendors or platforms. And for cripes sakes, don’t let the words “BI competency center” leave your lips! (Not yet, anyway.) Instead, position BI as something that will propel the organization forward.
Notice a theme here? It’s all about expectation management. In order to get ongoing support from management and participation from users and/or IT, you’ll need to be realistic about delivery, clear about the value you’re driving and structured in your approach to getting there. Like I said, “God bless…”
This was first published in May 2010