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Common BI Newbie Mistakes

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.


Business Intelligence has been a top priority for many CIOs and other project sponsors for years and most organizations perform some level of analytics on a daily, if not intra-daily basis. Many organizations, however, are looking for more up to date technologies or ways of bringing their BI use to the next level. This blog tends to address a lot of how to’s and steps for success. What it rarely talks about are some of the mistakes I’ve seen organizations make that end up turning the promise of BI into a failed project. So here are four things that I see regularly that cause organizations’ BI projects to fail:

  • Lack of scope: Sometimes organizations know they want to implement BI but it is more of a directive based on an article read as opposed to a direct business need. When this happens, organizations can either identify the challenges within their business or simply look to implement a tool that will replace current reporting and spreadsheet use. Although, replacing older tools and spreadsheets can be a positive step towards building up organizational efficiencies, a lack of a business-focused scope can lead to project failure. A lack in project scope generally leads to failure because of a lack of adoption, poor development, or the inability to develop metrics tied to business pains.
  • Trying to do too much too soon: This can be considered the opposite of not having a proper scope. Sometimes organizations try to do everything at once by including everything under the sun in their BI project scope. They want to address all needs in the organization with the same solution and expect that it is possible to do so with a single project plan and implementation. The reality is that a centralized BI approach is possible, however, it needs to be planned for. This means developing an iterative project plan to take into account the different phases of data acquisition, solution development, and rollout using an iterative approach. Additionally, even if using a centralized approach to BI development, rollouts need to be incremental in nature to assume small wins before moving forward.
  • Being unwilling to take the time to evaluate internal requirements against the market: Software selection tends to be a challenge for many organizations as the market is flooded with solutions that sound like they meet most business needs. The reality, however, can be different. Depending on the platform used, how information will be delivered, and what type of analytics required, different business challenges may need separate solutions. The reality is that researching the market is time consuming at the best of times and requires an understanding of product roadmaps, potential implementation hurdles, and capabilities, and match that to the business requirements of the organization. Additionally, this has to happen after the business and technical requirements have been gathered, making it a long process. Many want to skip this process, but in the end, taking the necessary steps can make the difference between selecting the right solution and having to conduct a new product search after implementation.
  • Bad project planning: BI is a project like any other that requires a strong project plan and management. Although most organizations have some project management in place, some are not prepared for the level of involvement it requires to build a BI solution. In most cases, failure ends up occurring when organizations try to do everything at once by bundling their BI implementations with other IT projects. Whether new Website builds, updating customer applications, or developing a new service, most BI projects need to be managed independently without having to compete with many other projects at the same time. Unless enough internal developers exist to manage all of these projects simultaneously, organizations need to make sure that their BI project can be managed from start to finish, with an understanding that additional support may be required. 

These are the top 4 that I see regularly, but are not an exhaustive list. Let me know what other mistakes you’ve seen in the market – whether from the prospective of organization, consultant, or implementer. 

This article was written by Lyndsay Wise and originally published at:

http://www.wiseanalytics.com/blog/2014/05/27/common-bi-newbie-mistakes/

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