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BI Collaboration Best Practices:
Part 3, The Process Domain

online columnist John Onder     Column published in DMReview.com
July 14, 2005
  By John Onder

To continue on last month's theme, this month we'll move forward with the approach to plan a business intelligence collaboration (BI-C) environment. Expanding on the methodology to perform a readiness assessment an organization has to accept, plan, build and implement a BI-C.

Last month we summarized the readiness assessment for the people domain. (See Figure 1 for the four domains of a BI-C program). We'll proceed with the same example, at the project level: a DW/BI application that addresses a specific, internal business need based on the measuring, monitoring and controlling a process.

Figure 1: Four Domains of Business Intelligence Collaboration

Asking some salient questions during the readiness phase for the process domain, can help the BI-C project be "scoped for success." Usually one will get a wide-ranging response to the same question, such as "What is the objective of the BI-C?" Gathering, synthesizing and presenting these responses back to the stakeholders for discussion and agreement at the end of this exercise can avoid many headaches for the BI-C team down the road.

Readiness Assessment: BI-C Level One - Project

Domain - Process


Project Planning and Management

BI-C projects more than any other are multiteam, multidisciplined initiatives and need thorough project planning and management to be successful

In planning a BI-C program, during the readiness assessment it is important to understand the following to plan well and manage expectations: scope, cost, objectives, purpose, constraints, assumptions, organization and risks. Some of the key questions and tasks:

  • Are there current collaboration programs in place, in testing and planned for?
  • What is the anticipated scope of the BI-C program?
  • If there are current collaboration programs active, what function or area of the business are they in process? 
  • What knowledge sources are being utilized and/or needed to fulfill the business objectives? 
  • Gather an overview of the business requirements of the BI-C. 
  • What is the overall strategic objective of the BI-C?  
  • Strategy for delivery, (big bang- all inclusive, one iteration or incremental - multiple iterations, based on business need)? 
  • If a collaboration program is active, what are the implemented and planned deliverables? 
  • Are the current and planned initiatives of the BI-C understood and communicated well to upper management and the business users? 
  • Is the project under any implicit or explicit time and/or date constraints?

To manage a BI-C program many factors come into play. Like planning, gathering data on some key points (tools, resources and stakeholders, timeframes, issues, tasks, procurement) can make or break the project management process. Some of the key questions and tasks:

  • Are there any collaboration tools to assist in executing and managing the BI-C program? Software for development, management and program oversight? 
  • What level of resource commitment and availability can the program expect?
  • Is there an expected time frame for delivery of the overall BI-C?
  • Are there deliverables available for review for any of the current collaboration programs and/or are there standards within the organization for project management deliverables: project charter, project work plans, project organization and staffing plans, project budgets, project performance measures?




For the BI-C to be a known, successful program. Measures to monitor, track and gauge performance need to be set and agreed upon during development and production deployment. These measures must tie directly back to the business objectives and should be clearly understood, defined and communicated to all members of the project team.


  • What are the tangible benefits, the system provides - desired and expected vs. actual? 
  • What are the soft benefits that this system is to provide - desired and expected vs. actual? 
  • What are the key performance indicators that are used to measure the on-going success of the system - during development and production? 
  • What are the short and long-term business goals of the initiative? 
  • CSFs? 
  • Management expectations?




Controlling the program is the component that takes the results of the answers and deliverables of the: plan, manage and measure areas and ensures boundaries are put around the BI-C program. BI-C programs, maybe more than any, are very susceptible to scope creep due to the nature of the wide variety of knowledge topics the business uncovers during the planning process.


Key items that should be considered: a well-defined budget, roles and responsibilities of project team members and reporting line, project milestones, scope inflation resolution and risk mitigation techniques

  • Is the project under any implicit or explicit budget constraint? 
  • How are funds allocated for the BI-C program? 




Like DW/BI programs, the methodology to build a BI-C is different than building a collaboration program for an OLTP. The result of the BI-C program will likely be changes to the DW/BI environment to support sharing of knowledge and information. Hence the BI-C methods and automation tools must be tightly coupled with a high-level of integration into DW/BI planning, design and development methods.

Is there a BI-C and/or DW methodology?

What tools are used for program, project and development management, documentation, resource management and deliverable management?

Change Management:

  • Are there formal or informal training procedures within the organization? Proper training is important to the success of the project and the final system. Participants on the project need to understand BI-C and Data Warehouse fundamentals. This ensures that everyone uses a common language to communicate and share knowledge.
  • Will there be a significant change to the way business will perform their jobs?
  • How will this be handled from a from a change management perspective?
  • Any past experiences with collaboration systems and their impact to the organization?
  • Has the impact to the organization during development, deployment and maintenance stages been assessed?



For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Business Intelligence.

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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