Creating a Fast, Trusted, Self-Service BI Competency Center:

How do you take an outdated, under-utilized reporting system and transform it into a solution that the business depends upon to report (and self-service report) on day-to-day business, as well as answer strategic questions? How do you start down this path toward trusted data and potentially faster reporting times?

Under the guidance and investment of a fully supportive Business Intelligence Competency Center, envision and implement a full-service BI application that supports all aspects of the business, provides superior run time experience with both performance and usability that has a foundation that will continue to support the growth of the business. This is only possible with the investment and leadership of a BICC. To set up a BI Competency Center that is supported by the executive vision and engaged across functional teams, let’s walk through the steps to deliver an adaptive and ever-maturing BI solution – a journey that brings together people, process, and technology.

Step 1: Executive Sponsorship

Ensure that the execution of the BI strategy is both aligned to corporate strategy and supported by key executive figures. You need buy-in to make the project go. BI projects are 43% more likely to succeed when they have effective executive sponsorship. Those who hold the purse strings will need a business case. Calculate the cost of not creating a viable BI solution. Consider costs of data storage, stopgap software in current use, the time personnel are spending on processes that could be automated or on workarounds (use going rates for positions on job sites against time guesstimates). If Sales is spending time that could be saved, estimate that time and multiply by an hourly revenue rate (sales rep revenue divided by 40 hours per week).

Step 2: Change Management Team

Put together a strong team of leaders with the same vision. The solution needs to be fully supported by all lines of business. Look across all business functions and pull together smart, progressive leaders (not always department heads) who can help champion your cause. Assemble a team that is agile and will act as advocates for the entire business. Your BI consultant likely can give your team a demo of what an implementation may be able to accomplish to deepen buy-in on your team.

Step 3: Baseline and Pain Points

Understand the maturity of your organization and allow for growth. Understand the current analytics culture, but don’t ignore the visionaries. Everyone needs to be heard. Ask questions of each business leader, discussing pain points from the lack of robust and/or integrated data. Business users know best what data they need, how often they need it and how to output to their workflow. Look for hidden nuances and don’t be afraid to ask questions such as whether a report is needed as often or even necessary at all? Create talking points and don’t be afraid to reference your colleagues in your pitch. You want to make sure the executive team understands the breadth of the problem (and solution).

Step 4: Goal-Centric Alignment

Traditionally BI solutions have been very IT-centric. With the growing needs of business users, the workload of new requests usually cannot be supported. Address backlogs of report requests in the solution. How can BI software help your company maintain its strategy and reach its goals faster? Use case studies to show how BI will allow you to better understand and act quickly on actionable data. How will BI help you keep up with the Joneses (your competition)? Can BI help you with internal KPI goals? Engage a cross-functional team to develop a solution that works for both sides.

Step 5: Facilitate Success

Concentrate on reports first. Meet high volume and repeated needs first. This will drive more frequent use and familiarity. More complicated data questions will follow once users realize the full implications of the technology. Realize that your BICC is there to facilitate the analytics community by leveraging resources throughout the organization and sharing best practices.

Step 6: Create Trust and Clarity

60% of organizations say they are not very confident in their D&A insights and only 10% believe they do a great job managing the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of their data and analytics.

End users may find data discrepancies between the new system and the old. Be prepared to address how old numbers are wrong and why. Do this in a timely fashion and communicate it widely and clearly. Review the business model. Make sure the model is standardized, simplified and uses a common business glossary and processes across all lines of business. Don’t’ engage users during requirement gathering and then drop the BI solution on them weeks later. Keep them updated on development and implementation. Their data needs are often recurring. Useful input can come up later as you move through a business cycle.

Step 7: Impact and Adoption

Reduce the shock factor. Make sure everyone is kept involved and informed. Carefully choose your early users for rollout. Early adopters with a thirst for interacting with the data will prove useful for fully vetting the system, be more tolerant of fixes and debugging and will create interest among other users as word spreads about capabilities. Use the BICC to communicate, train, coach and listen throughout to increase user acceptance and adoption. Bring BI to review meetings.  Use of BI tools in review meetings helps in collective analysis and thus improving the adoption of BI culture in the company.

Step 8: Technological Simplicity

Streamline the technical landscape. Have a technical design that utilizes the true enterprise features of SAP BI4.2, specifically parallel queries and the move from UNV (Universe Design Tool) to UNX (Information Design Tool). Maintain environment separation, version control, and promotion management

Step 9: Emphasize Performance

Look at the current and future data needs of your company and let go of the legacy design. Utilize the right technology that supports your performance goals. Don’t be afraid to identify key areas throughout the business that will drive the most positive change. Simplify and improve.

Step 10: The Spoils of Victory

Create an enhanced user experience, with simplified reports that address the business needs of today and are more usable, less complex and run significantly faster than before. Welcome to a simplified model that allows the business to run self-service queries and have a consistent view across the company for quick, agile and definitive answers to business trends and questions.

While performance improvement varies wildly based on amount of data, size of company, etc., Consultancy by Kingfisher has realized a 400% increase in reporting times for a global device manufacturer, 73% increase in reporting times for a large health solutions provider and a 5% improvement in transportation costs for a large manufacturer, resulting in savings of $3 million annually.

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