Published on: April 10, 2014
How you use your business intelligence application matters just as much – if not more than – the application itself. Business intelligence (BI) can provide your company with valuable insight into your operational and sales data, as well as help you identify important business trends and opportunities for future success. Starting out as a simple term to describe the interrelationships of business information and data, business intelligence has evolved into so much more. Large and small businesses alike are using business intelligence solutions to make better decisions and plan for the future. While it’s certainly true that business intelligence can help companies achieve their goals, it will not (and cannot) be effective until a business intelligence strategy is put into place.
Why Do I Need a Business Intelligence Strategy?
A business intelligence strategy is essentially a roadmap to help your business measure business performance, identify competitive advantages, and tune into your customers through statistics and data. Ultimately, a BI strategy gives your solution a goal and direction. While BI without a goal will certainly provide insight into your business, it will not lead you to where you want to go if you have not determined a destination. In order to get the most insight out of your data, you need to have a clear strategy in place. This will enable you to make strategic business decisions based on facts that support your company’s overall vision and goals.
So, How Can I Create an Effective Business Intelligence Strategy?
Creating your BI strategy involves identifying where you are currently, where you want to be in the future, and how you plan on getting there. To create an effective BI strategy, you need to address the following:
- Determine what your BI strategy will cover. What is the scope your of BI plan? Be specific about what it will and will not cover. How will it align with your business’ goals and plans? Defining the scope of your BI strategy will help you stay on track so you can achieve your goals and maintain your focus.
- Identify and manage stakeholders. Once you have a clear understanding of the scope of your BI strategy, you will need to identify and manage the stakeholders included in your strategy. Make sure to include key executives and managers who have a say in where the business is heading.
- Determine how your BI solution will be structured. What type of deployment are you using: self-service, cloud-based, mobile, or all of the above? Do you prefer an on-premise or hosted solution? What type of user permissions does your business require? Addressing these needs and structural issues will help you carry out your BI strategy. In addition, you will most likely need to update your current systems to support BI and information delivery. This process will typically depend upon the BI solution you choose.
- Train your team on your BI solution. Whether you’ve invested in a new solution or have had BI for a long time, you need to train your team on the specifics of your solution. A BI strategy will not be effective if your team does not know how to deploy, manage, and use your business intelligence tools. If you’ve trained your team in the past, take the time to revisit training and focus on your new strategy. This will serve as a helpful refresher and also align your employees with your BI strategy.
- Implement your BI strategy. Now that you have determined what your strategy covers, identified key stakeholders, determined the structure of your BI solution and trained your team on how to use the solution, you are ready to implement your strategy (once key stakeholders have agreed to the plan, of course). You can start the implementation by designing a work breakdown structure to ensure that each step is identified, properly budgeted for, and scheduled. Make sure you assign the proper people to each task and keep your team involved and informed as the project unfolds.
Creating a BI strategy can be the ultimate influencer of whether your BI project succeeds or fails. Having a strategy in place forces you to create a strategic plan for your BI solution and helps your team maintain focus as the project continues to unfold. If your business needs to add focus to your BI efforts, creating a BI strategy should be your first step.
If you are in the market for a business intelligence solution, contact us today. We offer a variety of business intelligence tools designed to help you gain valuable insight into your business and achieve your goals.