Implementing your BI consolidation program

Learn how to successfully implement your BI consolidation program, including how to build a business case for the business intelligence consolidation project and how to encourage communication.

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BI platform consolidationLearn how to successfully implement your BI consolidation program with advice from expert Rick Sherman, including how to get business buy-in for the consolidation project, how to encourage communication throughout the process and why establishing a BI competency center is a best practice.


Don't miss the other installments in this BI platform consolidation guide
* BI consolidation proves as much a political as technological process
* How to decide whether it is time for BI consolidation
* Tips for successfully consolidating business intelligence systems
* Implementing your BI consolidation program
* Making the business case for a BI consolidation project


Successfully implementing a BI consolidation program is much more than simply being proficient with the selected BI tool and migrating legacy BI applications. Buy-in and politics are tough issues that often reside under the surface. Oftentimes people are all for standardization as long as they are not affected.

Key things to consider:

Get business buy-in. This is IT project management 101, but you are not going to change your company's BI portfolio without the business wanting to make that change. The buy-in needs to be both top-down (i.e., sponsors or business executives) and bottom-up (i.e., the businesspeople affected). To get buy-in from the hands-on businesspeople, get the "power users" to buy in and then have them become your evangelists. They are truly the people driving and often maintaining the existing BI applications, so they need to get on board first.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. First, spread the word about what you are trying to do, why, and who will be affected. Second, listen to feedback and make adjustments as necessary. Finally, keep everyone informed on the status of the project.

Test, test, test. IT needs to ensure that data is coming out the same as in the legacy BI application -- and, if not, why. Run new and old BI tools/applications in parallel. If possible, have a "power user" do the initial runs of the parallel tests. Eventually, business users will have to be involved in parallel testing to ease transition and also to "sign off" on the new system. Be proactive, not reactive, in getting their approval. IT needs to be available to the business users whose applications are migrating and must be able to deal proactively with any discrepancies or issues.

Take small steps. BI consolidation needs to be done incrementally, not as a "Big Bang" project. Include in your overall program smaller incremental projects that involve gradually migrating applications to the new standard. IT must have the resources and time to be involved with the businesspeople who are migrating. Hand-holding is sometimes essential to help some businesspeople through this change.

Business training is critical. An internal training course where businesspeople get a brief overview of the new BI tool's functionality, while accessing their own data, has proven to be the most effective approach to migrating business staff. If users attend multiple-day training sessions at the vendor site, they often forget what they learned before they get back to the office. Most of the time, those sessions bombard users with functionality they will never use.

Augment your IT staff. The best way to expedite migrations and complete them successfully is to temporarily augment the existing IT staff. Plan for and include these supplemental costs in project plans and your cost/benefit analysis. Without this augmentation, the BI consolidation project often fizzles out before it is completed.

Establish a data governance program. A BI tool standard enables you to implement business definitions, rules, metrics and transformation all at once. A data governance program is the best method of ensuring that these are the correct business definitions.

Create a BI competency center or center of excellence (COE). This may be an actual organizational unit or a virtual one, but regardless of how it is implemented, an enterprise should share BI resources and expertise across BI applications.

Moving beyond the BI consolidation program
BI consolidation will most benefit the enterprise by lowering TCO, paving the way for more consistent information, and enabling data compliance. Many organizations have undertaken BI consolidation projects only to fail because they viewed them purely from a technology perspective. Do not fall into that trap.

 


About the Author

Rick Sherman
 

 Rick Sherman has more than 20 years of business intelligence and data warehousing experience, having worked on dozens of implementations as a director/practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers and while managing his own firm. He is the founder of Athena IT Solutions, a Boston-based consulting firm providing DW and BI consulting, training and vendor services. Rick blogs on performance management, DW and BI at The Data Doghouse. You can reach him at rsherman@athena-solutions.com or (617) 835-0546.

In addition to teaching at industry conferences, Sherman offers on-site DW & BI training, which can be customized and teaches public courses in the Boston area. He also teaches data warehousing at Northeastern University's graduate school of engineering.

 


Don't miss the other installments in this BI platform consolidation guide
* BI consolidation proves as much a political as technological process
* How to decide whether it is time for BI consolidation
* Tips for successfully consolidating business intelligence systems
* Implementing your BI consolidation program
* Making the business case for a BI consolidation project



This was first published in April 2009

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