In my fifteen years of experience implementing BI, I've also seen a lot of projects postponed and delayed. Here are the top 5 excuses for NOT implementing BI and why they are just lame excuses.
1. I need a Data Warehouse first
Actually you don't and depending on the state of your Data Warehouse project, sometimes its better if you don't have a DW project under-way. If you're currently struggling with or waiting for DW project, ask yourself - How much money are we losing, waiting for the data warehouse to give us visibility into our business? How much has it cost us so far with little or no results to speak of?
Stop wasting your time and your companies money and get visibility of your data from your source system NOW! Sure, have a data warehouse strategy but don't wait for it.
With a BI system in place (so yeah â€“ data marts for now) you will have visibility within a week. You can decide what goes in the data warehouse first and how much time we spend on it.
2. I need to fix internal processes first
You sure do and if the first one isn't fixing reporting and forecasting, move it to the top of the list NOW. Reporting touches everyone, and everyone needs quality at the outset. BI identifies process problems fast. BI gives you the visibility to understand where processes are failing and which failure has the biggest impact on the business. Trying to fix the process before getting real information on its outcomes is like pinning the tail on the donkey. You know the ass is out there, but the blindfold means you can't see where to put the pin. BI helps you take off the blindfold
3. I need a new ERP/CRM/blah blah first
You probably do so why not save some money â€“ put in a good BI system that frees up your staff so they can give proper attention to those HUGE new projects. You must have your reporting, budget and forecasting humming like any other effective, business as usual, process so you and your team can be dedicated to those ERP/etc changeover projects when required.
With BI in place, reports will come out every day, week or month without fail and when the new ERP is in place, new data comes from that system â€“ the reports don't need to change. It's business as usual.
BI will let you visualise the changes you need to make to your current company data structures (accounts etc.). So if you are thinking about your ERP, effective BI will help you in the selection process to really focus on what matters to your business as you embark on upgrading/changing these core systems.
4. I need clean data first
YOUR DATA WILL NEVER BE 100% CLEAN. Now get over it. Business environments and needs are constantly changing. There are always going to be errors. Effective BI means you can decide how important those inconsistencies are because you clearly see the impact they have. How material are they? You don't know until you can effectively identify them. BI will show you the errors â€“ they stick out and the bad ones, the ones that really matter will get your immediate attention and you will act to have them fixed. The rest of the errors get fixed when the cost of fixing them makes sense against the value you can now clearly articulate.
5. We're about to enter a budget process
Perfect! During a budget process is the best time to gently move people to a new system. First iteration of the budget you collect data using the old system â€“ Excel for most. Grab the data from the spreadsheets and put that into CALUMO.
The next iteration will still be Excel but with CALUMO formula to catch the data when it's entered. The data is stored and calculated centrally. People don't need to send the spreadsheets back to you.
Third iteration sees those same spreadsheets published as a web page. Same look and feel, same colours and people will love you! I'm not going to lie, it is hard work initially, but as the budget process progresses, it gets remarkably easier. Next year's budget process is so automated and people are already happy with the system from last year, you can go on holidays. My clients do! The budget process is a quiet time for them â€“ is it for you?
This is just one approach to implementing Business Intelligence for Planning, of which there are many. There is is always a most effective way, and while the specifics may change the right approach always means getting moving, generating momentum and starting to deliver results immediately.
I am interested to hear other excuses you have for not having a BI system in your organisation today. Leave a comment or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.