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Part 2, People Domain

Business Intelligence Collaboration Best Practices

Editor's note: Part 1 of this series can be accessed at http://www.dmreview.com/article_sub.cfm?articleId=1028085.

Planning the BI-C: Level One - Project

This month will begin to explore the process to plan a business intelligence collaboration (BI-C) environment. The logical place to start is to understand the readiness an organization has to accept, plan, build and implement a BI-C.

The readiness assessment for a BI-C is much like other IT projects, but the key differences reside in the gauging of the wants, needs and capabilities of a user group the spans all roles and levels within an organization. It is important to remember the guiding principles and characteristics of a successful BI-C when performing the assessment:

  1. An organized and efficient process to share and communicate information
  2. A flexible process to allow for various levels of use
  3. Foster innovative and independent thinking by removing many of the common barriers to knowledge and information sharing

Starting at the project level: a DW/BI application that addresses a specific, internal business need based on the measuring, monitoring and controlling a process, for example, sales; we'll begin with assessing the components of a BI-C program across the four domains as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Four Domains of Business Intelligence Collaboration

As we discussed in the previous articles, automation is the key to an effective program and the domains enable the program to be successful. If an organization doesn't understand the limitations they have in either possessing the necessary components from day one and/or the capability to automate these components, the ability to manage expectations during the build of the BI-C program will likely cause project failure or at least a misunderstanding of the nature and goal of the BI-C.

Below is an outline of a BI-C Readiness Assessment methodology that will give the reader an overview of the areas that should be evaluated prior to the build of a BI-C. This month, we'll focus on the people domain.

Readiness Assessment: BI-C Level One - Project

Domain - People

Figure 2

Business User Involvement

For the BI-C to be the knowledge backbone of the project level there is a strong need for involvement of the business community as early on as possible; with involvement throughout the development life cycle.

  • How much involvement will the business users and management have on this project - requirements, knowledge collection and training?
  • Are there formal user acceptance procedures that exist within the organization?

User Base

The user base of a BI-C is very diverse consisting of all levels of information technology and business employees: developers, analysts, assistants, managers, VPs, CIOs. This unique characteristic of the BI-C has to be clearly communicated and understood in the planning phase. It is an application for the masses, not a singular business department.

  • What are the target groups for initial and subsequent BI-C deployment (IT, business)?
  • Who are the initial target users? Iterative development is a best practice in developing collaboration environments.
  • How many users by target group?
  • How are they deployed, centrally or scattered throughout the organization and/or geographically dispersed?

Team Organization

A clear understanding of the structure, roles, responsibilities and commitment level of the BI-C development team is required to manage the project to success.

  • Have the roles and responsibilities of all team members been identified?
  • How much availability and need of the identified team members is required for a successful project?
  • Who will be responsible for the care and feeding of the BI-C upon completion of the first target application?
    • Governance

      The BI-C will hold some of the most valuable corporate assets and must be managed as such. It requires the resources and dedication of the right people.Who will be responsible for the management and evaluation of the knowledge and information kept within the BI-C environment?

      • Knowledge Stewardship and Standards
      • Continuous Monitoring and Quality Control
      • Knowledge and Information Flow
      • Monitoring of Key Performance Indicators
      • Measurement of BI-C Effectiveness and Benefits

      Partners

      Current and potential software and consulting - partners in the development of the BI-C should be assessed.  Likely some of the technology and service components required to develop and managed a BI-C exist within the organization.

      • What are the licensing and contract issues with the potential partners?
      • Which potential partners are already engaged within the organization?
      • What roles will partners play - outsourcing, product sourcing, a mix?
      • How are partners evaluated and selected?
      • Are there any barriers to selecting partner - technology, use of preferred vendors, political issues?

      Next month we'll provide an outline of the process domain readiness assessment for BI-C. Future articles will continue to step through the methodology for developing a  BI-C and begin to deconstruct the BI-C components in more detail.


        John Onder, a partner in Chicago Business Intelligence Group (CBIG), has extensive experience in all facets of providing information technology services, business reengineering, system assessment and planning services. He has in-depth expertise in business planning and practical implementation of business intelligence and data warehouse applications across many industries. CBIG is a full service, vendor-independent DW/BI consultancy staffed by senior level professionals. Onder can be reached at john.onder@chicagobigroup.com or (773) 477-8783.

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