10 things you can do right now to improve your Enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities

  1. Document examples of manulytics (manual analytics) activities to illustrate hidden fixed costs. Any BI investment initiative needs executive support and budget. You need to make a case for the investment to improve your BI capability and show the business a ROI (Return on Investment). The cost of the current manualytics activity needs to be documented to highlight the hidden fixed costs of the current way of doing business to help build consensus to make improvements.
  2. Identify manualytics processes to be moved to production and automate.
  3. Raise awareness of data as a corporate asset.
  4. Enlist and cultivate a C-level executive sponsor for your Enterprise BI effort.
  5. When the business asks a question that is difficult to answer – keep track of the level of effort expended to generate the information. How many analysts with spreadsheets are compiling information manually? When the answers accuracy are questioned, how much more time is spent proving the numbers are correct.
  6. Development and document metadata wherever possible – Build in metadata requirements gathering into your SDLC – Create and standardize a process to capture table and column definitions and business logic into a standard format. Get tribal knowledge documented so that the business can continue to operate if people leave or move on.
  7. Data Governance – develop a committee to work towards managing the data and IT assets of the organization.
  8. Create/Assign data stewards for each of the source systems to agree on service level agreements for your source systems and resolve data quality issues.
  9. Work to centralize your reference data – business hierarchies like department and product need to be centralized, agreed upon by all stakeholders – this is a task that can be driven by your corporate governance committee.
  10. Don’t boil the ocean – Look for candidate pilot projects with a narrow scope to show quick wins to the business (90 day max.)
  11. Work toward tool standardization – many organizations own one of each BI tool – work to standardize on one or two.
  12. Build a Center of Excellence around BI and ETL – work to centralize your internal expertise for BI and ETL.

Well we ended up with twelve items, any one of which could fill a book or whitepaper and may be the subject of a future post.

As we work with different organizations, similar themes emerge. Every organization is different and your road to BI maturity is different from other companies. Sometimes it pays to have a fresh set of eyes come in and survey your current state to get you started on the right foot.

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