Want to increase business adoption of Business Intelligence, save a bunch of cash and build BI solutions quickly? Believe it or not, good technology partners want you to as well! In this article I'm going to demonstrate 3 simple ways you can accelerate your BI initiative and drive more value from BI Vendors/IT departments today, not tomorrow. It's time to kick start your BI Heart! Those of you who read my last post on Enterprise BI Strategy will have a better picture of where I see the responsibilities of the technology piece sitting, firmly on the the shoulders of a CIO or equivalent function, but how can the business take an active role in a BI initiative, and help to accelerate its delivery and uptake? Dream it and it will come More often than not, when business users are taken through a traditional requirements gathering phase the focus tends to be on what would support their current role using data available today. It's an interesting challenge, with BI supporting strategic decision making for the future, the balance between being relevant today, and tomorrow, poses architectural challenges for IT folk, that can be mitigated to some extent with a little bit of forethought. Business people by nature are an efficient lot, motivated in adopting processes that provide the most value within a manageable amount of effort on a recurring basis, which is why sometimes its very hard to take a step back and look at alternatives to the way their business is conducted today, or how a changing marketplace may force the way it's conducted in the future. From my experience, an open dialogue around some of the business's expectations and challenges for the future, along with the type of BI tools that can provide clarity around those opportunities, is extremely helpful when designing and building a BI solution. Often, when pressed, business users find it hard to articulate their exact requirements, and I believe that comes about for a couple of reasons. Firstly there is a reluctance to lock those requirements down too tightly because of the dynamic nature of businesses in general, keep in mind though that broad requirements don't lead to focused outcomes. Secondly, business users don't have vast amounts of the type of BI experience that would help them make long standing architectural decisions. The value here though is in the types of initiatives, ideas, forecasts, that can help provide an architectural direction and strategy for future BI development. Lock down what you need today. Think about what you need tomorrow. BI is an evolutionary process, you don't have to get it all right, all the time. Your insight as a business stakeholder is vital to BI, speculative or otherwise. Understand the Jargon Client facing BAs, Technical PMs and developers, have made it a point to understand business terminology and be able to translate technical concepts in business terms for a number of different audiences inherently in their role. There is a general resistance from a number of business areas to reciprocate the knowledge sharing process, which is fine! A perfectly plausible explanation is in utilisation, best to let IT departments or vendors deal with providing systems and solutions, allowing the business to do what they do best, selling, service provision etc, but it comes at a cost in terms of time and dollars. "Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession." - Kingman Brewster Jr "Communication Transition Points" take a generally rich and established business language and translate it to an equally rich and established technical language. These CTPs are like international films or political forums, that take seemingly obvious concepts and ideas and attempt to translate them in misfitting ways, generally running longer than we'd like, and costing more than they should! These CTP gateway activities occur throughout a BI initiative, but feature prominently in requirement gathering activities. Should vendors take time to express themselves in a way that targets your organisation? Absolutely. Does this add an overhead to the project? Absolutely. A commitment to understand even basic terms such as facts, dimensions, metrics, and concepts such as dimensional modelling, presentation layer vs data layer, makes a huge difference to the development process, and the ability of the user to convey very clear and succinct requirements. Miscommunication ultimately impacts business outcomes. A little bit of jargon goes a long way. CTPs are expensive and time consuming, cut down. Clear communications give focused results. Build a team that works So put up your hand if you've dreamt the dream of BI success, and you've schooled yourself in another language! BI wants you! To build an effective team to deliver a true BI business outcome you need a range of technical and business resources who can share a respectful, open dialogue. Often the structuring of the team can play an extremely important part.  It's not two teams of disparate individuals fighting a way to different outcomes, it's one cohesive group working through various technical and business challenges to produce a platform that supports real strategic  advantage, so structure it as such. A collaborative team of dedicated technical and business resources can cycle through iterations of BI deliverables in a way that adds value to your organisation today, and provides clarity over the abilities of the platform for the future. Sure, fundamentally the solution is about the provision of information, and is constrained by inputs throughout the organisation, but a data rich experience without a user base is just an expensive hobby, get involved as often and for as long as you possibly can. At the end of the day the business stands to benefit most from successful implementation/s of BI, so invest in a common vocabulary, invest your time thinking about the future. Build a team that partners for success. Good vendors look for ways to help you achieve real business outcomes, and whatever commercial agreement you reach should be structured in a way that facilitates that commitment, but you also need to do your part! Foster a culture of collaboration between technical and business resources. Create team structures that reinforce that relationship. Get involved often and for as long as possible. Focus on partnerships that provide outcomes.  (author: Brad Riley) Business Accelerated BI

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