Are you wondering where and how to start your business intelligence (BI) project? Not sure how to get started with Power BI? Then you’ve come to the right place! In today’s blog, we’re going to introduce you to 9 tips for building a better BI project, and five important steps to follow to ensure your BI Project has adequate planning behind it.
Not sure of the benefits of business intelligence? Check out our previous blog post, Business Intelligence – Uncut Diamond to Refined Diamond, to learn how business intelligence gives you faster and more accurate analysis and reporting, better business decision-making opportunities, reduced external IT costs, and more!
Your BI project journey – 5 steps to follow
An important aspect of Change Management for any organization is to ensure that you’ve adequately planned out the implementation of your new products/tools beforeyou begin that implementation. So, here are 5 steps you can follow when starting your BI project journey:
1. Structure Your BI Project
A good project begins with a solid foundation. Make sure you’re structuring your BI project before you try to implement anything, so that you can avoid pitfalls and ensure a solid launch when you’re ready.
2. Identify the Requirements for your BI Platform
Each department at your organization has different Business Intelligence requirements and needs. Consider what your business needs and wants, what your current data is suggesting, where you see your organization in the future (from a business intelligence reporting standpoint), and how you’re going to get your end users to engage with the platform going forward.
3. Choose your BI Platform
This BI platform is going to be an important and strategic investment to your organization, so you want to take the selection of which platform you use seriously, with a methodology and a safety net to support your decision.
4. Implement your BI Platform
As you build your BI Implementation Roadmap, it is important to remember that value is captured not only in the functional capabilities of the tool, but also in its ongoing support and utilization. You need to consider how you’re going to implement your BI project, what type of implementation you want to do, the factors that affect your implementation decisions, and more.
5. Measure the Success of Your BI Solution
The benefits of BI are notoriously difficult to quantify and measure because many of them are intangible and materialize downstream in a multitude of business processes. However, it is still essential to quantify the current state of your BI program so you can understand your weakness, as well as be able to compare to your end state and measure success. Some things you can measure include:
3 tips when structuring your BI project
So, how do you go about structuring your BI project? This step is crucial because it can help you avoid many common pitfalls that can cause a BI project to fail, such as inadequate planning, the absence of executive support during or after project, a poor alignment between the selected BI tool and the organization’s overall goals, and the absence of how you’re going to measure your success.
To avoid the pitfalls listed above, follow these three tips:
1. Build a BI project team
- Document the managers and sponsors of the project.
- Identify resourcing, including constraints.
- Plan how critical business stakeholders will be engaged and identify how their buy-in and support will be maintained.
2. Identify your BI project’s objective and scope
- Document the project timeline.
- Be specific to business units impacted Identify opportunities and risks.
- Outline the steps and outcomes of each stage of the project.
- Define what success looks like.
3. Know your BI project budget
- If possible, document the budget for the project and the approved investment budget.
Do you have the right BI tools and strategy?
If you already have some BI tools in place and are planning for a new, improved BI strategy, consider what BI-related problems currently exist throughout all aspects of the enterprise. Here are some common problems we have witnessed when helping our customers:
- Wrong BI Tool: The BI tools chosen were inadequate for the organization’s needs, resulting in inaccurate business decisions being made.
- The BI Tool was Not Properly Planned Out: There’s an increasing inability to adapt legacy applications and systems to meet new BI needs.
- The proliferation of BI tools and redundant BI tools: Utilizing applications with overlapping capabilities and similar purposes.
- A large number of data stores: Multiple “sources of truth” for the same piece of data.
- Lack of adoption from end-users: They were disengaged, unsatisfied, and unproductive.
6 additional tips for you when building your BI project strategy
In addition to the three tips listed above, we’ve also included these six additional tips to help you build out your BI project strategy and ensure your end users are on board:
1. Help your business users utilize BI tools by choosing one that’s not too tech-invested
There are a number of BI tools out there that are quite user-friendly and don’t require the help of an IT department to set up or display various reports. Make sure that you choose one that your end users can actually use, so you can save your IT department for more pressing needs. At ProServeIT, we recommend Power BI, because it’s easy to use, doesn’t require much back-end assistance, and has many features and functionalities that can be displayed at the click of a button.
2. Introduce use cases and demos to your business users to increase the chances of adoption
The expression “seeing is believing” is quite effective in encouraging people to adopt a new product or technology. Don’t just tell them why this is going to be good for them – show them! Use cases and demos can be a powerful way to facilitate the discussion around why you’re planning on implementing a BI project. Use cases and demos also show off what the new tool is capable of doing, but, more importantly, can help your end users understand how this new BI tool is going to make their lives a whole lot easier!
3. Give ownership of the BI project to your users who need it most
Your users need the access to data and insights that will be derived from your BI project, and, as mentioned above, it’s best to select a BI tool that is easy to use. Once set up, why not give ownership of this project over to the users who need it most? These business users need the actionable information, often in real-time, so they can’t exactly wait around for someone else (like your IT department) to generate reports.
4. The right tools for the right users to tell their stories
Your data tells a story – whether that’s determining why your sales are on an upward trend, or why your last quarter was lower than average. These data stories can help you predict what’s going to happen in the future. So, give your users the right BI tools that will help them tell those stories! Have you noticed a correlation between weather trends and sales? Pull external weather data into your BI reporting tool to help you predict and optimize your sales based on these correlations.
5. Empower your end users by letting them be a part of the planning process
Your end users need a reason to get excited about the tools that you are implementing in the organization – to be truly enthusiastic about this change, they need to understand how the BI tool is going to make their jobs easier. So, it’s important to get their input on what they hope the tool will be able to do for them, and also understand how they’re going to be using the tool day-to-day. By making them a part of the planning process for your BI project, you’ll get the inside track on their specific needs and get them excited about the changes that will be taking place.
6. Monitor your BI usage and adjust accordingly
We’ve mentioned that you should give ownership of the BI project over to those who need it the most – i.e., the business end users who will be working with the tool. However, that’s not to say that IT shouldn’t have a hand in this BI project. In fact, we feel that your IT department needs to remain an active participant when it comes to these BI tools. You need to see what data sources are being accessed, who’s accessing the tool, how they’re using it, etc., and this is a good way that your IT team can both monitor and evaluate the use of the BI tool, and what could potentially be improved upon.
Let’s map your BI project journey together!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Business Intelligence software is no longer a luxury or niche. Organizations of every size and across all industries are taking advantage of the benefits of BI, and those who aren’t are ending up with a major disadvantage over their competition. But just having an appetite for BI doesn’t mean that your BI initiative will be an automatic success – you need careful planning and considerations before selecting a BI tool that meets your requirements, aligns with your business goals, and fosters end-user adoption.
Not sure where to begin? Need some help with the planning and preparation? Just exploring your options at this point? ProServeIT’s team of BI experts are happy to help you start your BI project. Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements with you to determine how you can start your own BI project!