How do you plan a successful BI Project?

Launching a Business Intelligence project is something companies are doing more and more lately. Diving into this exciting technological world can give them real marketplace advantages. However, the initiative can also be very complicated, and that is why organizations have to pay attention to the planning process.

It makes sense to understand better and plan what a BI project must solve, before starting to create schemas, calculations, and other reports. And even if it might seem obvious, this planning process is often skipped by companies that start building the solution without knowing if their KPIs are relevant for their purpose. Companies should always consider choosing a customized solution that fits the organization and not the other way around.

But before that, there are some other aspects to consider when planning to implement a Business Intelligence project.

Identifying the project objectives and stakeholders

The first step in preparing a Business Intelligence project is identifying what goals need to be accomplished, but also who are the people that should sponsor the initiative, and here we refer to the decision-making people. The support from this executive team is essential and will be received only if their expectations are taken into account when planning the deployment.

Beyond that, by beginning the project plan with well-defined objectives, your stakeholders will likely support the investment. Each executive member holds relevant first-hand information from their department, so giving them the opportunity to share their expectations and thoughts will also help the IT team to draw up directions for the chosen Business Intelligence program.

Dedicating resources to the preparation

Many executives want to implement BI solutions that can be configured by themselves, without involving the IT department. However, in this mapping stage, the role of the IT specialists is essential and should not be neglected. Why is that? Because even the implementation of the most straightforward self-service BI solutions requires caution when it comes to managing data, and the process will require the technical talent of the IT team.

Also, Business Intelligence tools are not just for the executive team. The primary goal of this implementation is to connect as many operational decision-makers as possible and give them the chance to leverage the data. To do that, businesses should dedicate resources and create a cross-functional team to define the overall strategy.

Determining the metrics

To measure performance, companies usually use key performance indicators (KPIs) which are most influential in advancing business targets and therefore a pre-requisite for a successful BI project. KPIs must align with the already established business objectives. What companies should consider is the fact that those metrics can change over time, so implementing a process of continuous review is highly recommended.

Besides that, each department in the company that will benefit from the BI solutions should have its own indicators, because performance metrics are unique and depend on specific activities. It is crucial to know from the start how people will measure the activities through BI solutions.

Identifying data sources

The sources needed to gather data should be selected during the initial stage. For multiplex analysis, the company should include various sources such as customer relationship management systems, marketing automation systems, emails, as well as accounting software systems and other Excel spreadsheets.

While internal applications hold structured data, unstructured data is also provided by social networks, blogs, sites, and online communities, which possess valuable information for the decision-makers. Fortunately, customized Business Intelligence solutions can analyze various information sources and extract insights and predictions for the users.

Cleaning the data

Dirty data is one of the top causes of BI project delays. Organizations should anticipate data quality issues and data cleaning requirements before they initiate implementation. To avoid repeated errors, the IT teams could sample each of the data sources to determine data quality, and that will allow them to clean the data before it is imported into the data warehouse.

Testing and measuring

The entire BI architecture needs to be able to handle real-time data at optimal cost levels. Sometimes, even if the planning stage has been successful, companies might encounter issues in the testing phase when it comes to adoption rate or skepticism among users. In these situations, the best thing to do is begin with the tools that are already familiar to the organization.

Also, when the BI reports lack the data required in the decision-making processes, the testing phase will identify and deal with the absence of data by adding additional data sources for specific reporting procedures.

When it comes to measurement, the process includes calculating the BI’s return on investment. To do that, the teams involved in the implementation phase could create a comparison between the old system and the new one before highlighting the benefits.

Planning the implementation of a Business Intelligence solution is a complicated process that requires significant attention and patience. However, keeping in mind the steps described above, companies can plan and deploy BI projects without any concern. Furthermore, organizations now have the opportunity to implement self-service BI solutions customized for their specific objectives, which give users the power to create interactive graphics, reports, and complex analyses without involving additional IT staff.