When entering into any technology project, the team is typically is comprised of a blend of business and IT professionals. These can be from developers, analysts, business liaisons and business analysts; to the projects sponsors. When looking at a Business Intelligence project, this structure appears to be very similar on the surface. However, there is one component that changes drastically… the business involvement.
Business intelligence (BI) is an enterprise-level project focused on the analysis, distribution and contextual use of information for informed decision making. BI supports activities from the strategic level down to the operational level. When implemented in an organization, BI can drive the transformation of business knowledge from high level reporting to information-rich and integrated analysis.
By working with individual business units, IT will help identify the information needed to support and monitor business processes. The drive is to find the information needed to support business decision making, find where the data comes from and how is it used. Work alongside the business and ask why certain processes are the way they are and how can the process be made easier. Look at the underlying data, present this data to the business so they understand why processes are the way they are, and expose the anomalies within the data so processes can be improved across the organization. This data discovery is a critical piece of the process as it embraces the thoughts and ideas of the business units and exposes the data in a way businesses typically don’t see.
Working in an agile environment, IT can then have this data extracted and moved from operational data sources and transactional systems, into the BI environment. Business rules developed in the data discovery phase are then applied and data validation from the business units is needed to ensure data integrity for accuracy and completeness. Data Governance is implemented at this juncture, led by business unit leaders, to address not just the data anomalies, but also define business terminology.
The BI environment is loaded, rules applied, reports and dashboards are being generated. This is where the business really becomes the focal point. The business needs to understand how to work with the reports and dashboards and fully understand the information being presented. Feedback on report design and content are incorporated in an iterative fashion based on feedback. In depth training is then required for all levels within the organization so they have the knowledge what the reports are telling them, how it can impact their work, and what empowers them to make decisions. The ultimate goal is to enable the business to make informed decisions at all levels of the organization on a unified platform.
With the new BI knowledge, an organization will have the ability to gain insight as to departmental strengths and weaknesses, streamline processes, and grow profitability. The power of knowledge has thus shifted to the business units making information available for critical business decisions.