How to Develop and Document Your Business Intelligence Strategy
BI (Business intelligence) provides real-time analytics, allowing you to make better decisions for your business. Likewise, BI enables more accurate reporting, analysis, and planning. That’s why businesses that embrace and implement BI enjoy improved operational efficiency and competitive edge.
In response to the growing thirst for BI, we’ve seen dozens of unique solutions enter the market. But, the challenge is finding and rolling out the perfect BI solution for your business.
Whether you’re starting from scratch, moving past spreadsheets, or venturing onto a new platform, you need the right BI approach. Developing the appropriate strategy and roadmap can help avoid an unforeseen mess.
What’s a Business Intelligence Strategy?
Before we get to the step-by-step process of developing a great BI roadmap, it’s vital to understand what a BI strategy means in the first place.
A business intelligence strategy/roadmap is a compilation of all the steps required to implement BI in your company. It begins with defining your needs and identifying areas to extract intelligent information.
But that’s not all. It runs through to diving into the BI implementation process and even performing ongoing reviews.
Why Do You Need a BI Strategy?
Planning your BI journey allows you to address all your data concerns and develop a cohesive system to take advantage of the much-touted benefits of the BI system.
Another way to look at it is to imagine BI implementation without a roadmap. It would be chaotic. Often, you’ll run into three main challenges;
- Multiple versions of the truth: People end up referring to different data when making decisions. A BI strategy gives you a single source of truth.
- Lack of clarity for names and definitions: This opens the door for guesswork, which can be fatal in a process as delicate as BI implementation. A strategy provides the necessary explanations.
- Increased overhead: Essentially, you may have every department developing their own BI solution. A strategy allows you to create and maintain a single, unified BI ecosystem, thus reducing cost.
5 Steps to Develop the Right BI Strategy for Your Business
Different organizations use discrete strategies to implement business intelligence solutions. We’ll summarize the process into seven simple steps;
Assess your current standing
Many experts overlook this step. They assume that everyone would be wise enough to do a preliminary assessment.
In other words, pre-assessment offers valuable information about what you’re missing as well as what you already have.
To this end, you have to answer a few pertinent questions. For example, what would you like to achieve with the BI process? Secondly, is the vision aligned with your IT and corporate strategy? You don’t want to install a process that derails your overall business objectives. Other questions to ask include what solutions you’re using now and which of them are valuable.
Then, compile a SWOT analysis to reveal your primary assets and challenges. Doing this is critical for the next step.
Create a BI vision
A vision defines your purpose and direction. It manifests itself in the form of critical decisions, such as what sort of data you need to collect and who’ll have access to the insight.
Remember that it’s also the vision that will sell your idea to stakeholders. Besides, it explains to employees why they should switch to the newly-proposed solutions. And your staff need to understand how the new methods will streamline operations.
Some key points to address in the BI vision include;
- Who will be in charge of the BI implementation
- How will you deliver and support BI processes
- What type of infrastructure are you looking to use
Not to mention, you will need a BI Maturity Model to go with your vision.
Establish a BI governance process
The BI governance process defines and implements the BI infrastructure. It comprises three key components, namely;
- A governance team
- Tools and architecture
- User support.
The governance team should involve people from all levels, from executives to end-users. So, don’t only select BI experts. Tools and architecture include things like data sources, data integration processes, repositories, and dashboards.
Finally, user support involves three key things – data education support, tool support, and business support.
Draw out the visual plan
Now that you know all the data you need to organize and align the processes, you can create timelines and define deliverables.
Typically, the roadmap comprises high-level tasks such as “Find a BI vendor.” However, you can also create a top ten list to help you narrow down to the best fit. In that case, you can write down something like, “Identify the Top 10 BI Vendors.”
A few things to consider is the importance of combining a presentation-like format with technical aspects to capture both experts’ and end-users needs. You may also want to divide tasks by teams or task types (e.g., training data visualization.). Finally, don’t forget about deliverables and milestones. These two are critical in tracking progress.
Document the strategy
Once you’ve developed your BI strategy, the next logical step is to document it. This way, the strategy acts as a central reference that keeps your team aligned to your BI objectives.
The type of document you produce will depend on your demands. However, the strategy document must have an executive summary, a section on alignment with corporate strategy, and the project scope. Make sure to mention the chosen tools and alternatives you reviewed but dropped.
A great BI strategy document also lists and discusses the governance team’s role, explains the deliverables, and identifies critical metrics for measuring progress. Finally, remember to include the appendix.
Consider Annual Reviews
Revisiting your BI maturity Model every 12 months allows you to evaluate your progress and identify low-hanging fruits. In particular, you want to review the deliverables to determine whether you hit your milestones.
United Perfectum is always ready to help you develop, document, or review your BI strategy. Give us a call to learn more.