Implementing a business intelligence (BI) solution is a daunting task which involves considerable investments in terms of time, energy, and capital for right implementation. Despite all its capabilities, if not implemented properly, it will result in unnecessary delays, cost overruns, data quality and consistency issues, and disconnected end users. Hence, it is crucial to have the right strategy and approach in place.
An organization-level BI implementation works best when it’s done in a staged or phased manner. When you implement BI with a phase-based, collaborative approach, each phase will have a significant milestone and a building block with well-defined objective and purpose. Well defined milestones can be tracked for success at each stage generating the opportunities for the next.
Here are the key phases that must be followed when implementing a business intelligence solution:
Phase 0 – Information needs discovery and planning
This stage is a must! Before the project kick starts, it is crucial to invest time to understand the business context and priorities to avoid rework as we progress. An in-depth assessment of existing infrastructure helps to identify gaps, discover current challenges and areas of improvements. The key activities to be taken up in this phase are information needs discovery and discussions with all the stakeholders. This step will help us figure out the business problems that can be addressed in the subsequent phases and formulate a strategic roadmap in line with the business priorities.
Phase 1 – Data discovery and aggregation
This phase mainly focuses on understanding the organizational data sets thoroughly and identifying how to pull data from all the critical source together for analysis by keeping in mind the real constraints to implement these into the business processes. Assuming that the data can be easily gathered and analyzed could result in delays during BI implementation.
Data discovery and aggregation is the most challenging stage because it requires a thorough understanding of the business, its requirements, and how to collect the relevant information; because raw data imported from scattered systems can be barely analyzed as-it-is. So, the data needs to be cleansed, structured, and normalized using some state-of-the-art tools and techniques to create a centralized data warehouse. While designing the centralized data mart, it is essential to look carefully at every field, learn about the relationships between variables, create the most suitable models, and make the data reliable and ready for analysis.
Phase 2 – BI implementation and data visualization
It is always recommended to utilize the industry standards and proven agile methodologies for BI implementation. This will help in easy implementation of business intelligence platform and integration with other line-of-business (LOB) applications, in a streamlined way.
Once implemented successfully, creating dashboards is no easy task. It is an art that requires much more than just knowing how to use the tool. Data visualization strategies like which visual will communicate the results better, who will use the dashboards, how will the end-users be interacting with them, and what queries do the users expect the dashboards to answer, helps design the
dashboards and reports in-line with what is expected. Once designed and developed, it is essential to validate the data with a cross-functional team for accuracy and quality before going-live.
Phase 3 – Training and support – Rollout and going live
This phase emphasizes on determining the organization's readiness to adopt the new BI system. The rollout phase includes activities like training in the context of the organization and documentation for different roles like end-users, administrators, etc.
BI user adoption is a key indicator of a successful BI initiative. Most of the users in the company would be more interested in knowing how to use the solution rather than how it has been built. Also, instead of implementing the solution to the whole company at once, it is recommended to roll out BI to individual departments and/or business areas to ensure smooth and successful adoption. Positive reviews about the solution from the new users can lead to excitement in adoption among other departments.
Support phase consists of post-production implementation and adoption activities like continuous monitoring and support on data volumes, report updates, dashboard usage, etc. to ensure the system works as per the business expectations. This phase also discovers the opportunities to update and scale the system
Phase 4 – Advanced analytics and actions
Every business in today’s data-driven world is looking to reap the benefits of predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other cognitive computing to gain competitive advantage, drive faster decision-making, boost efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction.
Advanced analytics is the foundation to unlock the insights you've been searching for. With a holistic approach to the advanced analytics, you can get the right data, act on it, and make sense out of it. To transform your organization into an intelligent workplace, ready for today and the future and realize the potential your data offers, you must ensure that appropriate data management and data governance policies are in place.
Breaking down the requirements into phases makes the process of BI implementation more manageable. Instead of having one large deliverable, the phased approach makes the team more productive as the milestones are well defined, and the development process is more iterative with frequent interaction with the project stakeholders that allows smooth implementation.
When all is said and done, one has to be aware of the fact that BI adoption and implementation is not a one-time activity. As your business grows, you will have to refine your BI systems and strategies to accommodate the new changes.
We assist our clients in every step of their BI journey in becoming data-driven, by providing everything from specific expertise on discrete issues to holistic transformations spanning strategy building, implementation, integration, reporting and visualization, training and adoption, and much more! Need help in planning or upgrading your BI implementation? Talk to our experts and get your business analytics maturity report.