Business Intelligence Implementation
The cost of Business Intelligence (BI) software goes far beyond the purchase price. Time spent researching, implementing, and maintaining your BI investment can snowball quickly and mistakes are often expensive.
Your time is valuable – save it by learning from other businesses’ experiences. We’ve compiled the top ten tips on successfully implementing BI software from professionals who have already taken the plunge.
1. Prioritize your goals
“Know your options and match them to your business goals,” says Boris Kontsevoi, President and Founder of Intetics. “For example, some BI platforms are free, but take a longer time to properly setup (up to 4 weeks). Others are subscription-based, but can be installed in a week. Do you care more about the cost or time?”
2. Recognize your non-negotiable criteria
Harold Leusink, CEO of Peritas Solutions advises, “Before you even start looking at solutions, separate out your ‘musts’ from your ‘nice-to-haves’.” Peritas Solutions, a consulting firm that has been helping companies find insight in their increasingly large data sets since 2001, finds that “your musts are non-negotiable, and so should be the first thing you talk to vendors about. Your ‘nice-to-haves’ give you a set of criteria you can use to objectively judge any solutions that passed through your musts filter.”
3. Utilize built-in tools first
“Opt for built-in analytics,” says Christy Delehanty, Content Lead at PandaDoc. “Instead of piling apps on apps on apps, try to make use of the analytics built in to the tools,” suggests Delehanty, “often, these dashboards provide the simplest peek at actionable data with the least set-up on your end.”
4. Clean data only
“Make sure you data is clean,” warns Jamie Lin, CEO of Gizmo Global. “This is obvious, but the biggest issue during implementation. Cleaning your data before you implement makes the entire project easier.”
Chandra Siv, General Manager of Data and Analytics Solutions for North America at Mindtree, agrees that addressing data quality is a must. Siv adds that “the confidence level and trust in the data used for decision making is a critical success factor.”
5. Identify key metrics beforehand
“Before implementing business intelligence software, determine what data you need and what format you want it in,” adds Gina Cerami, Vice President of Marketing for Connotate. “Look for a technology solution that can deliver clean data with actionable insight. Web extraction and monitoring solutions go hand-in-hand with business intelligence and fuel informed decision-making.”
“Know what you are trying to show before you start,” says Jon Mills, Director at Paige Technologies. “It is easy to get caught up in the rabbit holes of correlation instead of causation if you don’t have clear metrics in mind before you start.”
6. Start small – choose a few goals to focus on in the beginning, then add more
Michael J. Smith, CEO for Raster Media, advises companies to “focus your BI integration on one or two business objectives initially.” In Smith’s experience, “this will speed up the integration and allow the integration team to focus their efforts rather than being overwhelmed with delivering results for dozens of business objectives. Additional goals can be added once the initial integration is complete.”
7. Don’t ditch currently effective processes without reason
“Evaluate which tools and functionalities will actually benefit your company and ensure your entire team is using only those that you’ve determined are valuable,” says Sam Zietz, CEO of technology company, TouchSuite. “Although every tool in BI software was added to that solution (because) there is a need within the industry, many businesses already have successful processes in place that make those tools obsolete. In this case, implementing those tools might actually work against your company, particularly if some team members are inputting information in one system, and others within the new BI solution.”
In order to maximize productivity, Zietz says to “make sure your team is clear on which tools should be utilized and which should not be accessed within the solution. If applicable, you may want to consider putting administration locks on those systems within the solution that you do not want accessed.”
8. Make the technology work for you, not the other way around
“Make sure that you align business activities with corporate strategy,” says David Reischer, Chief Operations Manager for LegalAdvice.com. According to Reischer, “the key is to extract useful information when needed.”
9. Empower end users by simplifying the toolset and infrastructure
“You’ll never be able to gather all the requirements from the users of BI so they need to be empowered to create, change, and filter reports in order to meet their BI needs,” says Craig Abramson, Marketing Director for Third Wave Business Systems. However, “if the infrastructure is too complex then data anomalies are inevitable,” Abramson warns, “complex toolsets take away the user’s ability to be self-sufficient.”
10. Don’t just stop at a more intelligent business
“BI is about better intelligence, but then what?” asks Stuart Easton, CEO of TransparentChoice. Easton says “that intelligence is fed to a group of people to make a decision and that’s where the value generated by better intelligence gets diluted by poor decision making practice. Without addressing better decision making, any investment in BI is going to have a very limited impact.”
The best way to avoid making costly mistakes when choosing BI software is to do your research. Check out the features, demo the products if you can, and make sure to evaluate them using defined criteria.
Do you have any additional tips on implementing BI software from your organization’s experience? Become part of the conversation in the comments section below.
By Keith Cawley