1 January 2015
The term 'agile', when used in the world of software development, refers to an approach saying that software cannot be fully defined before it is completely developed; instead focus should take place on improving a team's ability to provide products quickly and react to demands made during the development.
Agility in the world of BI
Agility can be implemented continuously in BI in several ways:
Time efficiency: In the traditional process of BI tool development, most developments are long term developments based on precise characterizing of each potential source and target of information. Agile Methodologies, on the other hand, deal with interactive developments in which the demands and solutions are developed through the cooperation between the different work teams (e.g. development, clients and customers) while focusing on quick prototypes that encourage the users to give feedback and thus specify their needs.
A flexible solution easily adapting to changes: Agile BI is characterized by a total low cost of change implementation. This methodology encourages business users and IT personnel to think differently, ask new questions and illustrate the answers in various ways and tools, each adapted for the users' needs. One example of this adapting are the adjustments one can perform on the Dashboard or the fact one can create a new Dashboard if it is more suitable.
Project management in the Agile world: Agile development requires Agile project management. When following the traditional approach, the planning is performed at the beginning of the work process and would often lead to a long term schedule and cumbersome execution. The Agile methodology focuses on a consistent cycle of planning, execution and feedback. The planning occurs at the beginning of each cycle, as opposed to the beginning of the project and the lessons learning process occurs at the completion of each cycle. Furthermore, it is possible to change the solution's scope during its development. At the end of each cycle, new useful tools are produced. The time spent on their production is substantially shorter than its equivalent in the traditional BI method.
Creating intuitive tools for users: using the Agile methodology for BI provides intuitive Dashboards and designated user friendly analytical tools that can be applied in the organization. The result is an ability to enhance the independently created report services, improving continuously the user experience. Using friendlier interfaces can enable a quicker, more precise decision making process.
ROI enhancement: organizations can enhance their ROI by decreasing their development resourcing and a temporary decrease of knowledge sharing.
How to apply Agile BI?
In order to apply Agile BI, we must first construct a work team comprised of IT personnel and business representatives. Following this, this team must identify and prioritize the demands dealt with, as well as decide which demands will be dealt with in the first cycle, and initiate an interactive development process. The IT must use, in this case, Agile BI tools that can match the organization's database.
To conclude, Agile BI promotes quick, flexible, cost efficient development of BI solutions. Using this methodology enables the organization to quickly react to changes in the business needs and provides users with intuitive tools in order to receive the best answers required for business decision making. Furthermore, the Agile approach is also relevant for complex projects such as updating search engines and KM management projects in general. Obviously, each case should be individually reviewed. Every solution has pros and cons and one should be sure, before running Agile projects that also here, the benefits are significant, and we all will smile at the end of the day.