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How to Overcome BI Self-Service Risks 3 and 4

by Dr. Berg

October 21, 2011

In this third installment of a blog series, we are exploring risk # 3 and 4 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 3: Proliferation of a High Number of Reports & Dashboards

Many users in a BI self-service model find it easier to create another report instead of searching for existing reports in the system. This leads to a proliferation of tens-of-thousands of localized reports within a few years.  I have worked with companies that have over 16,000 reports among less than 400 active users (and which were growing by over 600 per month).

This can lead to stress on the system and significant confusion of what is available to the BI users. As users recreate their reports many times each year, it may also lead to a substantial amount of rework that has little value to the organization.

Recommendations for Risk#3:

1. You should undertake a periodic review of all reports in the system and remove those not used. Specifically, I recommend that you delete all reports, universes, dashboards, workbooks and templates not accessed in a 13 months timeframe.

2. The BI training groups should emphasize the capabilities of BOBJ BI self-service and encourage re-use as part of a hand s-on training exercise in all training classes. The key concept of the BI Self-Service model is to let user become self sufficient to create, access, organize and modify their own content.

This also means that they can search content, create their own WebI reports, organize the layout of their displays, view Crystal report, Xcelsius dashboards, and other items at the same time. The search capability in BI self-service is illustrated as a search for ‘world sales report’ in figure 2.

Figure 1: Searching for Insights Regardless of BI Tools



BI Self-Service Risk 4: No Centralized BI Report Center

There is a significant need to organize all BI content such as reports, dashboards, workbooks, score cards and queries in single location for easy access regardless of tools. If reports are organized around tools, you may have significant risks of duplicating development at a very high total cost of ownership.


1. Create a single report center using the launch pad. This technology is intended to make accessing the BI items much easier. From here users can accomplish tasks such as using multiple tabs to work on several documents at the same time, search for what they are looking for and use wid gets to filter results.

They can also schedule and send from items from document viewers. The core capabilities of the launch pad are illustrated in figure 3:

Figure 2: Organization of Reports Regardless of Tools

Figure 3: Viewing Multiple BI Items at the same time 


Other BI Self-Service Risks

Like I have written in the past, I am a very strong believer in BI Self-service. However, it is important to acknowledge and plan for the many risks before you can be successful. In the next blog we will look at the last two risk how you can overcome these. These include:

  • BI Self-Service Risk 5: Security
  • BI Self-Service Risk 6: Power shift in Organization

 Dr. Berg

(note: thanks to SAP AG for some images)

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