Successful Business Intelligence Software Implementation

While the need for business intelligence is widely recognized, the use and implementation thereof can often be confusing, or misunderstood.

Most business intelligence initiatives start with the purpose of delivering the right information at the right time. This gives the correct priority to timeliness and accuracy of information, but does not indicate where said information should go. Though a real time BI software solution may deliver up to date information via dashboards or traditional reports, it may not be enough for employees who barely have time to log into their laptops when off visiting major customers. For such people, this information is not “real time” in the truest sense unless it is also readily accessible at the right place.

Another myth about business intelligence is that it provides analytical reporting while core transactional applications supply operational information. In actuality, a standard business intelligence software solution must meet both informational needs equally. Because information from both of these areas satisfies a diverse set of requirements, the most important ingredient for successful business intelligence implementation is getting the various parts of the organization properly aligned. It is critical that business analysts, in the early stages of implementation, interview all key stakeholders and document and reconcile critical business requirements from operational experts, analytical experts, line management, and staff management at multiple levels of the organization. Failure to understand internal customer requirements is one of the top reasons for failed business intelligence implementations.

Once requirements have been elicited and rationalized with each other, the proposed solution must be vetted with all stakeholders to ensure correctness and, even more importantly, drive buy-in so that all stakeholders will support and work towards a successful implementation rather than ignoring or, worse, actively resisting it. Once the initial requirements phase is complete, the next important step in an implementation is architecting a proposed solution and then piloting the solution on a small scale with key users to reduce any risks and prove out the implementation. During this phase, training plans can be created. A strategy for rolling out the implementation incrementally can be initiated and kinks in the implementation can be worked out.

Post-implementation, it is advisable to follow up with users to reinforce training and ensure that the full benefits of the business intelligence software solution are being realized. Any deferred features or capabilities can be addressed in the form of a small post-implementation revision project which takes an evolutionary approach towards continually improving the solution