According to the "BI Survey," an annual research report conducted and written by the Business Application Research Center, the length of business intelligence projects has a big influence on how many problems occur and how many benefits companies derive from those projects. Projects of less than one month yield the most benefits. As projects get longer, more problems crop up. So when it comes to BI projects, the shorter, the better.
But how do you shorten the implementation phase of a project? You don’t want to skip steps or do a half-baked job on the work you undertake. Well, let’s take a look at some of the steps to a successful BI implementation. I’m using noted data warehouse expert Wayne Eckerson’s book, "Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business" as my inspiration for a list of implementation tasks. Here goes:
- Gather requirements
- Research and select vendors/products
- Determine what data to include and where it resides
- Select transformation tool
- Select visualization tool
- Market the project internally
- Create data cubes
- Map data to the BI platform
- Test and debug mapping
- Develop security
- Research and program necessary calculations
- Develop views, reports, and dashboards
- Create folders, naming conventions, hierarchies
- Test and debug
- At significant steps above review with management/users, rework, retest, and get sign-off
- Train users
- Launch solution
- Customize application and views, reports, and dashboards
- Support users
Yikes! Can you get that done in a month? The answer is “yes” if you are careful about the second step. The solution you select will determine how quickly and how smoothly your BI project can be implemented. Let me explain using BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics as the solution selected.
Because BIO is a full BI platform, you won’t have to select all of the pieces and make sure they work together. BIO includes a robust back-end, including an ETL (extract, transform, and load) tool, a hierarchy manager, and a cube builder as well as a sophisticated front-end visualization tool that is easy to learn and use. If your data source or one of your data sources is Microsoft Dynamics, you can delete that whole data mapping step for this source because BIO has the industry’s deepest connectors to Microsoft Dynamics SL, GP, and NAV.
But what may save you the most time of all is BIO’s “content.” BIO’s developers pre-programmed cubes, folders, hierarchies, calculations, and 60 reports into the out-of-the-box product so you wouldn’t have to. That also means you don’t have to research, program, test, debug, rework, and retest all of those parts of the solution. They’ve been tested by the BIO team as well as successful users. Training is easier because it’s a single, intuitive product. And because BIO provides self-service interactive reporting and analysis capabilities, users can create their own reports and views, thereby reducing any customization efforts.
So with BIO, you can really get your BI project up and running in just a few days, realizing the most benefits with the fewest problems. You can start with a departmental application and expand to other departments, keeping the projects and scope small and allowing you to let successes build on top of each other.
Read an interview of Barney Finucane, author of the "BI Survey"
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By Sandi Forman of BIO Analytics, Corp.,