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Creating a Business Intelligence (BI) & Analytics Strategy and Roadmap

This post provides some of my thoughts on how to go about creating a Business Intelligence (BI) & Analytics Strategy and Roadmap for your client or company.  Please comment with your suggestions from your experience for improving this information.

 

When creating or updating the BI & Analytics Strategy and Roadmap for a company, one of the first things to understand is:

Who are all the critical stakeholders that need to be involved?

Understanding who needs and uses the BI & Analytics systems is critical for starting the process of understanding and documenting the “who needs what, why, and when”.

These are some of the roles that are typically important stakeholders:

  • High-level business executives that are paying for the projects
  • Business directors involved in the usage of the systems
  • IT directors involved in the developing and support of the systems
  • Business Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) & Business Analysts
  • BI/Analytics/Data/System Architects
  • BI/Analytics/Data/System Developers and Administrators

 

Then, you need to ask all these stakeholders, especially those from the business:

What are the drivers for BI & Analytics? And what is the level of importance for each of these drivers?

This will help you to understand and document what business needs are creating the need for new or modified BI & Analytics solutions. You should then go deeper to understand … what are the business objectives and goals that are driving these business needs.  This will help you to understand and document the bigger picture so that a more comprehensive strategy and roadmap can be created.

The questions and discussions surrounding the above will require deep and broad business involvement. Getting the perspective of a wide range of users from all business areas that are using the BI & Analytics Systems is critical.  The business should be involved throughout the process of creating the strategy and roadmap, and all decisions should tie back to support for business objectives and goals. And the trail leading to all these decisions must be documented.

Some examples of business drivers include:

  • Gain more insight into who our best customers are and how best to acquire them.
  • Understand how weather affects our sales/revenue.
  • Determine how we can sell more to our existing customers.
  • Understand what causes employee turnover.
  • Gain insight into how we can improve staffing schedules.

 

And examples of business objectives and goals may include things like:

  • Increase corporate revenues by 10%
  • Grow our base of recurring customers
  • Stabilize corporate revenues over all seasons
  • Create an environment where employees love to work
  • Reduce payroll costs without a reduction in staff, for example, reduce turnover.

 

Then, turn to understanding and documenting the current scenario (if not already known). Identify what systems (including data sources) are in place, who are using them (and why and how), what capabilities do they offer, what are the must-haves, and what are the pain points and positive highlights.

Also, you will need to determine the current workload (and future workload if it can be determined) of the primary team members involved in developing, testing, and implementing BI & Analytics solutions.

This will help you understand a few things:

  • Some of the highest priority needs of the users
  • Gaps in capabilities and data between what is needed and what is currently in place (including an understanding of what is liked and disliked about the current systems)
  • Current user base knowledge and engagement
  • IT knowledge and skills
  • Resource availability – when are people available to work on new initiatives

 

What are the options and limitations?

  • Can existing systems be customized to meet the requirements?
  • Can they be upgraded to a new version that has the needed functionality?
  • Do we need to consider adding a new platform or replacing one or more of the existing systems with a new platform?
  • Can we migrate from/integrate one system to/with another system that we already have up and running?
  • Are any of our current systems losing vendor support or require an upgrade for other reasons? Has the pricing changed for any of our software applications?
  • What options does our budget permit us to explore?
  • What options do our knowledge and skills permit us to explore?

 

Once you have identified these items …

  • Identify and engage stakeholders, and document these roles and the people
  • Identify and document business drivers, objectives and goals
  • Understand and document the current landscape – needs (including must-haves), technology, gaps, users, IT staff, resource availability, and more
  • Identify and document options – based on current landscape, technology, budget, staff resources, etc.

… you can develop a “living” Strategy and Roadmap for BI & Analytics. And when I say “living”, I mean it will not be a static document, but will be fine-tuned over time as new information emerge and as changes arise in business needs, technology, and staff resources.

 

Your Strategy and Roadmap for BI & Analytics should include, but is not limited to:

  • BI & Analytics that will be used to satisfy business drivers, objectives and goals
  • Data acquisition and storage plan for meeting the analytics needs
  • Technology platforms that will be used to process and store data, and deliver the analytics
  • Information about any new technologies that needs to be acquired or implemented, and schedules
  • Roles and Responsibilities for all stakeholders involved in BI & Analytics projects
  • Planned staffing allocations and schedules
  • Planned staffing changes and schedules
  • User training (business users) and Delivery team training (technical implementers & developers for example)
  • List dependencies for each item or set of items
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