“It takes two to tango.”
“There is no “i” in Team.”
“The sum is greater than the parts.”
There are so many sayings that capture the importance of team work. Whether it’s a dance or a sports team, success is often found when team members have a symbiotic relationship; one can’t be successful without the [...]
“It takes two to tango.”
“There is no “i” in Team.”
“The sum is greater than the parts.”
There are so many sayings that capture the importance of team work. Whether it’s a dance or a sports team, success is often found when team members have a symbiotic relationship; one can’t be successful without the other. Business Intelligence programs are no different. They, too, require a team effort or partnership to be successful. That partnership is between the business and the technology functions of a company.
While IT departments are accustomed to working with business associates for application development purposes, the relationship in a BI program is different.
Application development is mostly focused on delivering a transactional system that is rooted in functional requirements. Requirements are generally known upfront, detailed, and static for the foreseeable future. Interaction between the business stakeholder and the IT development team is likely intermittent and as needed. Once the application is developed, the project ends and any temporary team is disbanded.
By contrast, business intelligence really never ends. BI exists to meet the ever changing analytical needs of the business. As a result, a dedicated joint business and IT team, often referred to as a BI Competency Center (BICC), is usually formed to meet those needs. The BICC team is long-lived with ongoing responsibilities to deliver reliable data and meaningful analytics. Business questions that likely drive requirements are not usually fully known upfront and will come to light through joint prototyping and iterative development. Additionally, a BI program will have multiple iterations or development projects underway at once. Therefore, interaction between the business and IT components of the team is likely to occur on a daily basis. Because business intelligence is often an enterprise wide, strategic initiative, the BICC is ideally led by an executive sponsorship committee jointly comprised of business and IT leaders.
The interdependency of business and IT in a BI program starts from the very beginning and continues through all functions of the BICC. For example, establishing an over-arching BI strategy and designing the blue print for the related architecture requires the business members to articulate the company’s strategic direction, how it operates and the relationships in the data, their analytical needs, the timeliness of the analysis, etc. This enables the technology side of the team to design the architecture, recommend proper tools, and design databases that best support the needs of the business.
Another example is the process to manage the company’s demand for BI. While the business members of the team will likely collect, inventory and assess the benefit of the ever changing needs of the company, the IT side of the team will provide input to a cost and effort analysis which will help to jointly prioritize the iterative development.
Joint participation is especially apparent in one of the core functions of the BICC, which is to manage the data as a strategic asset. Data governance is all about managing the data assets to ensure integrity, usability, accessibility and security. It ensures the right data is available at the right time so that informed decisions can be made based upon reliable data. Data governance focuses on managing data quality, master data and metadata. In each of these areas, the business and IT members of the BICC work together to define, measure, cleanse, and publish necessary information to ensure the data is consistent, understood, reliable, and has relevant business context. Usually, specific processes and tools are implemented to govern the data.
The joint partnership between the business and IT is one of the keys to a successful BI program. Working via a long term, valued added relationship brings many benefits. The business and IT components of the BICC will consistently drive toward the same goals, speak the same language, better understand and even anticipate each other’s needs, respect and leverage each other’s talents, gain momentum faster, and produce a better product overall. Just like the dance “The Tango”, in the world of BI, it takes two to be successful.
Central Clinic is expanding their services in 2010 and therefore requires an enhancement and modernization to their current system. LÛCRUM Inc has been awarded a contract to provide consulting services focused on the Alcohol and Drug (AoD) Application for Central Clinic utilizing the program for client treatment history and billing/payor accounting. The primary [...]
Central Clinic is expanding their services in 2010 and therefore requires an enhancement and modernization to their current system. LÛCRUM Inc has been awarded a contract to provide consulting services focused on the Alcohol and Drug (AoD) Application for Central Clinic utilizing the program for client treatment history and billing/payor accounting. The primary deliverables are focused on Universal Payer Changes, SQL Server Upgrade and Application Enhancements. LUCRUM and Central Clinic have partnered on other applications in the past and we look forward to continuing that partnership in 2010!
Once upon a time, not so long ago, in a land of IT outsourcing and relationship management, there were two vendors. One vendor was named Mouse and the other named Hippo – I have changed the names to protect the innocent (hopefully you got that already). My client (who will remain nameless), contracted with each [...]
Once upon a time, not so long ago, in a land of IT outsourcing and relationship management, there were two vendors. One vendor was named Mouse and the other named Hippo – I have changed the names to protect the innocent (hopefully you got that already). My client (who will remain nameless), contracted with each to provide two major applications for an important global business program designed to bring all parts of the business together so that they were able to engage global clients as a true global company.
Now the mouse was very fast and nimble. When obstacles arouse, Mouse was able to change directions quickly. Even when there was no clear direction, Mouse ran and ran he did, as fast as he could. Everyone liked Mouse’s ability to run. Seeing Mouse run, people felt that things were moving, that things were good. It didn’t take a lot of cash to get Mouse running, he ran and ran and ran. When we told him to run to the tree, he would run to the tree – then once he got there, he would add a dance, a spin and run to other trees close by. The problem was that we didn’t want the dance or the spin. Soon we found that even Mouse running to the nearby trees wasn’t needed. Mouse spent a lot of his energy spinning, dancing and visiting nearby trees. In fact so much energy was spent doing these things that Mouse eventually ran out of energy before he got to the tree. Mouse then decided to only ran half way to the tree, do his spins and dances and wander around the nearby trees. Mouse’s best attributes were also his undoing! You see, in the end, Mouse was not properly managing his energy – he would use up his resources. Even though we said to simply run to the tree, he would let us know that he was also going to do his spins, dances and visit nearby trees. This seemed very good to us because we were getting more than we asked for and this seemed like a good value. But, when his energy levels were running low, Mouse was left with no other option than to economize his actions, which resulted in poor results. In the end, no one felt confident that Mouse could deliver. His heart was in the right place – he wanted to give us value and do whatever we needed, but his head was not so much engaged.
Now Hippo, on the other hand, could also run and run very fast, but he had a hard time getting going. Hippo required a lot of push. To get Hippo running, we would have to determine where he was running and what indicated that he was running. Also, we had to have checkpoints along the way to show that he was in fact running. Everyone liked this attribute of Hippo – sure, a lot of work up front, but once he was in motion, we all felt confident that Hippo would get there. Soon we found that even though the tree that he was to run to was fully defined and checkpoints along the way to indicate that he was making forward progress were set, when things came up and we needed to change directions it was a big problem. You see, Hippo could not simply change directions. He would come to a complete stop first – and even this took some time. Then we would need to go through all those steps again; defining the tree, setting the interim progress indicators and getting everyone to push him so that he would get going. To make matters even worse, even the very small changes required these efforts and Hippo spent his resources quickly so that even the most simplest of changes cost a lot. In the end, no one had energy (budget) left to keep Hippo moving in the right direction accounting for small changes along the way.
The bottom line
The Mouse will over promise, seem to over deliver, but will soon run out of money. This business model can’t support anything longer than a fantastic looking sprint – then they implode and the relationship (or their business itself) is ended. A long term partnership requires a two way commitment. Sure you can take advantage of short-term gains but the ramp up of new partnerships is expensive. Plus the gained knowledge was not able to be leveraged and is lost.
The Hippo will always look to protect their top and bottom lines. This makes it hard for a partnership centered around value for the client. Since most of their effort is around ensuring their survival, adapting to business change and delivering quick value becomes very expensive or worse, they get bogged down in such a level of detail that they can’t deliver at all.
The good vendor is a hybrid; half mouse and half hippo. Structure is necessary but it can kill. Likewise, no structure gives agility but without discipline (structure) it leads to failure.
Manage your vendors; exploit their strengths, determine their weaknesses and lead them in the journey of ‘partnership’. (Keep in mind that ‘partnership’ is not so much of a destination, rather it’s in fact a journey – a common path that two parties walk, both correcting each other and reaping the benefits of success together.)
Mouse is still here because they have us (their client) at the center of their focus. But they are in trouble, both internally (keeping top and bottom lines in check) and externally (poor reputation). They are used for very short sprints. We realize their weaknesses and provide safety nets (extra budgets). Scope is well managed and talked about often to keep them on track. They are learning. Pain is a hard teacher but without pain, how does one know the problem areas.
Hippo is no longer around. You see, they had themselves at the center of their focus. The protection that they employed revealed itself as unbending agreements, over complicated change management processes, and expensive addendums. This quickly led to an adversarial relationship and who wants a vendor who won’t commit to an equal partnership.
Once you find the perfect Mouse-Hippo Hybrid, clone them!