How to Create a Business Intelligence Strategy

Business Intelligence Strategy - What is it? But first what's a strategy?

According to Wikipedia, a strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often "winning".

Why do you need a strategy and in particular one for business intelligence (BI)?

The environment in which your organisation exists is always changing. The only certain thing is change! You want to continue to succeed and win and to do this you have many choices. Your strategy is your long term plan of choices to achieve your organisation's goals in the long run taking account of the anticipated envirionment that will prevail.

So why have a BI strategy. Well information is crucial asset of your organisation in meeting your overall business strategy and goals. There are two other issues with BI that usually occur

  • Poor return on IT investment
  • Unhappy staff - they can't get the information they need to do their jobs
So your Business Intelligence strategy needs to:

  1. be aligned to support the business strategy and goals
  2. provide the information the staff operating the business needs to to an effective job
  3. make best and cost effective use of the BI technology and best practices available in terms of implementation speed and deployment

Note, it is vital to get top management support and the involvement of the IT department in any strategy setting exercise.

Here is a brief summary of each major step:

Business Strategy and BI Strategy alignment

Once the business strategy is set with goals or objectives, measures or metrics (key performance indicators(kpi's)) should be set so a baseline can be establish, targets set, and progress against tagets can be routinely measured and communicated.

The BI system should also provide information to support the updating of the business strategy, in terms of detecting trends, giving insights into opportunities for the business found in the organisation's data using data mining for example.

This alignment should also provide your IT department/staff clear priorites for project work.

Give the Folks the Information they Need to do a Great Job

Now let's deal with giving folks the information they need to do the job fully and well. Let's reduce their frustration level!

Spreadsheets, no doubt, proliferate throughout the organisation. This makes it hard for everyone within a function to get a complete picture.

First you need to understand what processes are being used. Hopefully they are written down, if not it is a good idea to suggest that this done.

Then you need to identify the information individuals need. Not only the information but its accuracy and how up to date it needs to be.

You need to work out how the information should be presented - reports, dashboards, graphs etc. Are calculations needed or a 'what if capability, or a powerful querying slice and dice capability needed?

Finally what training, support and BI tools are needed.

Make best and cost effective use of the BI technology and best practices

There are two actions to consider here:

  1. Talk to all the users of your current system and find out what is working well and what is not. Consider dumping what is not working well.
  2. Talk to other companies, attend conferences to find out what products are good and find out where people have had great success. Don't rely on the sales person for your information. Get out there!
Finally you need to create a written plan to implement your Business Intelligence Strategy and seek Top Management Support.

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