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The Risks of BI Self-Service - Risk #2

by Dr. Berg

October 12, 2011

In this second installment of a six-blog serie, we are exploring risk #2 of BI self-service and how to overcome this. We are looking at how you can maintain report consistency in an environment where hundreds of people can create their own BI work products.

 By Dr. Berg

BI Self-Service Risk 2: Lack of Consistency of Measures on Dashboards & Reports

The second risk with BI self-service is that each user creates their own versions of a report and shares this outside their departments. As this occurs there is a significant risk that non-standard measures are used as calculations in reports, or that filters are applied to reports that are non-standard in the organization.

When this manifests itself, companies may experience a variety of reports in meetings, conflicting measures in presentations and general lack of shared information.

Two Recommendations to Overcome Risk #2

1.  Designate all reports into two categories:

a.  Local and departmental reports

These can be created by super users (i.e. WebI reports) and may be used for management or personal reporting. Designated super users may also share these inside their department (i.e. shared on the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x stack). However, they should not be allowed to be shared outside their department, nor be provided to external facing entities such as customers, partners, SEC or vendors.

 To make these easily identifiable, they should never use any company logos, and be stored under a naming convention in BI 4.x that shows that these are localized reports, not corporate standards.

If a super user want to publish their local reports outside their department, they have to submit it to a designer in the IT or business community that will ‘certify’ the report; re-name it to the correct corporate technical name; check all calculations; reconcile the numbers to the source system (if needed for financial reports); map to correct user groups for security purposes, and publish it to those group(s) when required.

 b. Corporate standard reports and dashboards

These can be created by IT developers in the development environment, then tested in the QA environment and after testing, promoted to production box. These reports are corporate standards and may be used throughout the organization.

Additional metadata such as description, data source and purpose should also be added for clarity and so that users can have the ability to search for reports in a logical manner.  

These reports may also originate from the super users and authors in the business units. However, the same process should be followed for all corporate reports. They should also follow the same technical naming convention so that they can be easily identified and be performance tested before shared with a high number of users.

2. Create and communicate a standard ‘dictionary’ of corporate measures that is to be used by all report writers (super users, authors and designers). Make this available in training classes as a handout, as well as in a printable format on the Learning Management System (LMS).

Other BI Self-Service Risks

Again, while I am a strong beliver in BI Self-service there are many risks to overcome before you are successful. In the next blogs we will look at the other issues and how you can overcome these . This include:

•BI Self-Service Risk 3: Proliferation of a High Number of Reports & Dashboards
•BI Self-Service Risk 4: No Centralized BI Report Center
•BI Self-Service Risk 5: Security
•BI Self-Service Risk 6: Power shift in Organization

Dr. Berg

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