1 December 2013
Gabi Ben- zion
A global survey performed by Gartner among 2,335 IT managers and vice CEOs states that initiatives in the BI field are first priority. Furthermore, another report states that companies with high performances use BI strategically (a 50% differentiation from companies with low performance). The world of Business Intelligence is catching speed and many companies can be confused regarding what is considered success and what does BI actually contribute to the company's success? A first step to finding a direction of effectively implementing an apt BI strategy is creating a BI Roadmap.
Constructing the BI Roadmap is the first step in developing a BI strategy; the map is started off with a business and technological analysis of the existing information and the information required in order to support the organization's needs. The roadmap will direct the journey from its starting point to its desired designation and enable identifying and addressing questions such as how does BI and business analysis can be used by the organization, what business processes should be changed in order to leverage the use of BI and its analysis and create and return on the investment, identifying the gaps in the existing BI implementations and identifying business and IT units' required amount of change.
The second phase of creating the roadmap following mapping the current situation and identifying gaps is defining the process required for instilling a vision of business BI in the organization while regarding the following criteria:
The process must regard the work processes required for the success of the BI such as: strategy, management methods, existing technologies for storing and retrieving data, improvement of work processes, information governance and change management.
There is a need to include focused activities in order to overcome the technological gaps and work processes that may make the assimilation of this strategy and change management difficult
The process must include tight communication between the business units and the BI teams and related mechanisms in a manner that will enable initiative and a sense of collective ownership of the process (as opposed to Top-Down decisions).
The process must include all systems and technological activities that may use the BI mechanisms in order to enable efficiency and conserving resources (such as a general and uniform data warehouse for the entire organization, rather than one for each infrastructure of system.
There is a need to base the process on business plans, managing the projects, improving the processes and elements of change management in order to ensure an efficient assimilation of BI applications in work processes that will usually affect income, cost, or both.
Actually, it can be said that investing in BI technologies without aligning it with business priorities, the business processes and organizational abilities are like sailing in a boat with no navigation devices, and mapping the way to instilling BI in the manner suitable for the organization requires an inclusive analysis.
Other emphases to be considered when developing a BI Roadmap
When mapping it is important to regard 3 key components of BI that comprise a basic expectation of every business group from BI, which are: Data Availability, Data Reliability, and Data Completeness.
Define a vision and objectives for the BI from a business perspective as well as an IT perspective in accordance with the organizational priorities.
When analyzing the current situation, it is recommended to use a visual illustration and present organizational architecture or the manner in which the units approach the business information nowadays and related work process. Furthermore, present the different units and their BI needs as part of business processes.
Define the different business challenges you may encounter when accessing data or reports and data analysis, and the disadvantages of existing systems.
Define the objectives and designations for dealing with the aforementioned challenges and the level of organizational readiness to which you aspire. Define measurements for success and following progress.
Define the required situation visually while regarding the required levels of analysis, to the architecture and information flow processes in the organization and business processes. Define which question the organization can answer, which process analyses can be performed, the possible influence on the organization as a whole.
Develop an operative work plan which presents a multiphase plan for developing the desired BI infrastructure.
Write down the challenges and potential risks you identify in the process and the overcoming methods and possible alternatives in accordance with the situation.
In conclusion, there are many models of developing a BI Roadmap, with each model emphasizing a different aspect of the process. At the end of the process we should be holding an operative, intelligent map which includes the current situation as well as the required one, the manner of its manifestation along with its challenges and risks, and considers the technological aspects together with the business aspects and 'softer' aspects such as change and assimilation management. If we are interested in creating an apt, effective and cost-effective BI infrastructure- we must construct it intelligently right from its base and design phase.