Navigate Around These BI Pitfalls

Mapping Business IntelligenceNavigating the offerings for a Business Intelligence platform can be difficult, especially for the SMBs who don’t have a large staff that can spare the time to evaluate every nuance of what is available. To point your decision-makers in the right direction, follow these tips on what are bad practices and what are considered good practices in BI.

Bad BI

Don’t assume the average business user has the know-how or the time to use BI tools.  BI can be a great tool, but some training is necessary. Managers need to carve out time for staff to make use of the tools. Even those self-service BI tools should include a core of reports for end users to get started.

Don’t Allow Excel to become the default BI platform, also suggests – Many businesses make extensive use of spreadsheets to look at data. Working with Excel to produce reports so that business insight can be gleaned is like shoveling snow with a fork. It’s just not the correct tool. Excel does not provide quality and consistency in data. Individuals who create their own datasets in spreadsheets make the problem even worse. For a regulated industry with compliance requirements – which covers just about every industry anymore – this can be a disaster.

Don’t Select a BI tool without a specific business need – Certainly any business can benefit from Business Intelligence. And once you have a BI platform in place, your staff will discover data through dashboards and forms that today you can’t even imagine. But before you get started, you should have a good idea of what you want it to provide. Forrester warns against focusing on technology development and roll-out rather than change management and training.

Good BI

Now that we’ve identified a few of the things you can do wrong in picking a BI solution, let’s outline a few good practices.

Put the business into business intelligence – If you want your BI solution to succeed, follow the same business practices for any project. Involvement must come from the executive or subject matter expert level, or better yet, both. Along with a business sponsor and a set of requirements you’ll need to ensure collaboration with business executives.

Be agile and aim to deliver self-service – Maximize the chances of BI project success by using agile methods where possible. The majority of experts Forrester spoke with, emphasize breaking all elements of a project into the smallest possible chunks, working collaboratively and reviewing tangible deliverables frequently.

Other best practices suggested by Forrester include:

  • Establish a solid foundation for your data as well your BI initiative.
  • Select the most appropriate tool set.
  • Seek external help if needed.
  • Make change management and training an integral part of any BI initiative.


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