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Business Intelligence Implementations and the Importance of Collaboration

Business Intelligence and Collaboration

If your business intelligence implementation project has not been as successful as you hoped it would be, then you’re not alone: a 2012 survey from the research and consulting company BI Scorecard found that only 24 percent of respondents thought their business intelligence implementations were “very successful.”

The majority of the survey respondents said that their business intelligence projects had been helpful to business operations, but not as helpful as they had hoped.

According to Ed Burns, the site editor for SearchBusinessAnalytics, a lack of effective collaboration is one of the main reasons business intelligence projects end up under-performing. Burns argues that there is often a gap between IT and business personnel: in many companies, business intelligence implementations are considered IT projects, because the IT department is actually responsible for putting the systems together.

However, the overall success of business intelligence implementations is measured in business terms, not technical terms. If IT lacks an understanding of what business outcomes the implementation is expected to drive, then it should come as no surprise when the implementation doesn’t drive those outcomes.

So, if greater collaboration is the key to driving more successful business intelligence implementations, what can be done to encourage that collaboration? Trying to get business and IT to talk to one another may be incredibly difficult in some organizations, but Burns offers a couple of suggestions for initiating better collaboration.

Agile Enables Business Intelligence

First of all, using Agile development methodologies during the business intelligence implementation might help. By their very nature, Agile methodologies force business and IT teams into close contact with one another throughout the development process, so greater collaboration between the two will come about as a natural by-product of using Agile.

Also, the fact that the collaboration is ongoing is significant: business users will have ample opportunity to inform their IT counterparts should their needs around business intelligence ever change.

IT teams should also make an effort to communicate with business teams in their own language. This means no technobabble, and no gratuitous use of acronyms. It might help for business and IT users to meet and discuss the project goals in an informal setting, such as over lunch.

Meeting outside of the workplace may open up a more effective, easy-to-understand dialogue between the two teams.

Business Intelligence Champions

Organizations might also elect to choose a “business intelligence champion” to serve as a link between the two teams. This person may originate from the business or IT side of the implementation, but the key point is that he or she should be able to understand the implementation project from both sides: the technical issues that the IT team is running into, as well as the needs that the business users are trying to meet with the final business intelligence solution.

Having a neutral party involved that can speak the language of both groups can help keep the lines of communication open as the implementation progresses.

In the end, each individual organization has to arrive at their own decision about exactly how to position their business intelligence implementation projects between the business team and the IT team. As Burns suggests, keeping open communication and collaboration between the two teams is the most effective way of creating a technically sound implementation that also meets the needs of the business users.

If your organization has been having trouble with creating a successful business intelligence implementation, Burns’ suggestions may hold the key to overcoming your setbacks.

For more on improving business intelligence, check out this post on changing up how we think about the IT service model…

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