BI projects are not as simple as we think. There’s a lot more than goes into it beyond planning and implementation. BI projects involve a lot of moving parts and have a lot of pitfalls. Here are the 5 most common BI mistakes organisations make:
1. Unclear BI strategy
Often, businesses jump into a BI implementation with minimal planning and a vague articulation of the objectives sought out from the project. These businesses are typically guilty of:
- Having BI requirements dictated by features they require or specific data elements for the data warehouse
- Thinking that people will definitely use the system once it's done
- Having a vague objective such as understanding customers better
A successful BI plan relies on having a good BI strategy to guide it. Not only do your objectives need to be crystal clear, it needs to be defined as business questions or analyses that BI will enable you to answer or perform. Additionally, it needs to be accompanied by a thorough implementation plan that how BI will be embedded within fundamental business processes and decisions to ensure its continued effectiveness.
2. Lack of stakeholder buy-in
One of the most essential parts of your BI plan is buy-in from your stakeholders. Unfortunately, several business leaders deem BI as a technical project and therefore do not devote as much attention to it, according to the SAP Community Blog. Without buy-in, the project may be approved and implemented, but it will never be leveraged to its full potential, and as a result, will not deliver according to objectives.
The article reinforces that with Business Intelligence projects, there is no way to get ‘Intelligence’ without the ‘Business’ part on board. Business leaders must agree on the business objectives, and the need for a BI solution. They must also agree on the implementation plan and education plan to ensure cooperation from key business users. Only then will BI be leveraged strategically to make critical business decisions, and have the capacity to deliver the agreed objectives.
3. No foundation of BI
The success of a BI project also heavily depends on the foundations in place. Often, business leaders are introduced to the benefits of BI and jump into a BI implementation without the right foundation. Ultimately, the business ends up with an investment that yields little or no returns.
It is therefore in the business’ best interest to ensure that the business has a strong foundation, i.e., good quality data. The benefits brought about by BI will not manifest if the data being analysed is outdated, inaccurate or inconsistent. BI tools can only deliver intelligence if you have good quality data. It is also important to have the right data governance system in place before going ahead with a BI implementation.
Aside from ensuring the business has the basic data requirements in place, it is necessary for business leaders to have a thorough understanding of BI, the complexities of implementation and the risks involved with the initiative.
4. Misconception that BI is about reporting
BI = reporting is a long-held misconception. Some businesses are under the impression that the job of a BI tool is to spit out reports as needed. Eduardo Rodrigues, in his article for the SAP Community Network, outlined his experience with several managers, customers and C-level executives referring to their BI solution as a ‘reporting system’ that needs to work properly. In this case, BI is not leveraged for its visualisation or forecasting capability which is key in delivering clear insights for critical decision-making.
It is crucial that key users of BI and business leaders are educated about the premise of BI – analysing data to deliver intelligence for a business to make strategic business decisions. In addition, these stakeholders must be introduced to the features and functions of the BI tool and how they can use data and analysis to obtain insights. They should also be educated about the visualisation and forecasting capabilities of BI. Only then will they understand the true value BI brings to the business.
5. The wrong people on the team
Several businesses make the mistake of leaving a BI project to an external BI consultant from start to finish. While the business is getting the expertise of this BI consultant, it is impossible for this external person to truly understand your business needs and the objective of your BI implementation. Ultimately, you do get the best BI solution, just not necessarily the best for your business.
For a successful BI implementation, a business needs the right people. I don’t mean choosing the IT staff or the Analysts to take on the whole project. I am referring to a team consisting of a technical expert, a business user and a strategic advisor, as each of them will bring in the knowledge and skills to build a clear BI strategy and monitor the implementation. Having the right people will help you ensure that your BI solution will deliver according to plan.
For a project as complex as BI, these mistakes do happen. But the good news is that these mistakes can be avoided, as discussed above. Ultimately, a successful BI project not only brings in high returns, but it can also deliver a strong competitive edge that is key to a business’ success.