Tip from BI 2011: How to avoid costly pitfalls in your BI initiatives

by Kristin Bent

May 4, 2011

Whether you are implementing SAP BusinessObjects for the first time or upgrading to the new release of SAP NetWeaver BW, every BI-related project faces potential pitfalls and roadblocks.

In her upcoming session at BI 2011 in Amsterdam, 7-9 June – 10 things guaranteed to derail your BI project and strategies, tools, and techniques to combat them - Penny Siliva highlights the top 10 challenges any BI project manager may face, and offers proven strategies for avoiding them. Here are a few tips pulled directly from Penny’s presentation that you can put to use right away:

Pitfall 1: Lack of executive commitment and communication

Strategies to avoid:

1. Organize and meet regularly with a Steering Committee

-Ensures the direct involvement of the executives, thus forcing their commitment and involvement with decision making

-Aids in focusing and prioritizing projects to align with the business strategy

-Helps manage expectations and scope of the analytics solution

2. Educate the executive team to gain their commitment

3. Educate the executives about warehouse and analytics best practices

-And keep their expectations reasonable – therefore leading to success


Pitfall 2: Not understanding the users’ real needs and requirements

Strategies to avoid:

1. Organize your users’ needs into categories:

-Within a category, requirements answer specific types of questions

  -Data requirements:

    -What data elements should users see?

    -What data elements should users enter?

  -Functionality requirements:

    -What tasks should users be able to perform?

    -What should users be able to do with the data presented to them?

    -Under what conditions must they be able to do these things?

    -Are there business rules that constrain the answers to these questions?

  -Process and task flow requirements

    -In what order must users perform various tasks, or the steps within a task?

    -What are the variations of each flow, and what determines which variation is in effect?

    -Who needs to participate in each process or task flow?

    -How will those who are involved in the process or task flow communicate?

  -Usability requirements:

    -What usability attributes must the application support? For example

      ;  -Users should be able to select well-defined data from a list of options rather than by typing them in

       -Users should be able to navigate to commonly performed tasks in three clicks or less

       -How fast or well should users be able to complete each task?  For example:

       -Users should be able to define and generate a desired report in less than three minutes

Overall, users should be able to complete a task with less than a five percent error rate

Pitfall 3: Lack of prioritization

Strategies to avoid:

1. A good start is a job half done

  -Follow the IT roadmap that is created in accordance with the long-term business strategy

  -Timely governance and direction from the executive and management team is essential

2. Agile – The way business is run today

   -Changes in the business strategy quickly affect monetary, organizational, and procedural plans causing diversions and roadblocks in the IT roadmap

    -Be on the look-out for situations that can cause improper project prioritizations

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