Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nine Choices on the Road to BI Solution Centers

Intelligent Enterprise published this month a good article about Business Intelligence Solution Centers, by Boris Evelson and James Kobielus, analysts of Forrester Research. This article is based on the Forrester Report Implementing Your Business Intelligence Solutions Center.

They said as BI grows more pervasive, complex, feature-rich, and mission-critical, it also becomes harder to implement effectively. Many information and knowledge management professionals question whether they architect, implement, and manage their BI initiatives properly. Doing so requires sound BI and performance management best practices — and an awareness of the myriad ways it can all go wrong.
Forrester defines a BISC as: A permanent, cross-functional organizational structure responsible for governance and processes necessary to deliver or facilitate delivery of successful BI solutions, as well as being an institutional steward, protector, and forum for BI best practices.

The chief symptoms of suboptimal BI management practices include:
- The lack of a single trustworthy view of all relevant information.
- BI applications too complex and confusing to use effectively.
- BI applications too rigid to address even minor changes.

You need to customize your BISC approach, and the intersections of these four dimensions — process, people, data, and technology — create multiple BISC scenarios and approaches that information and knowledge management pros must consider when developing a BISC most relevant to support your BI efforts.

The nine scenarios and approaches you must consider when implementing your BISC are:

1 - Strategic Or Operational Objectives?
Some organizations deploy BISCs that are purely strategic or advisory in nature. In those organizations BISC accepts the role of being a BI champion, providing subject matter experts, and overseeing BI standards, methodologies, and a repository of best practices. When these BISCs take on more operational duties they become responsible for tasks like the BI project management office (PMO), training, and vendor management.

2 - In-house or Outsourced?
Enterprises deploying BI will need help from experienced consultants and systems integrators (SIs). This expertise is critical because BI is very much an art and will remain that for the foreseeable future, since it involves engineering a complex set of systems and data to address the changing imperatives of business organizations. As a result, most of the more successful BISC organizations include both internal and external staff.

3 - Virtual Or Physical?
Organizations have a choice of leaving their BISC staff within their lines of business (LOBs) or functional departments, or moving them to a centralized physical BISC organization.

4 - Operational or Analytical in Scope?
A BISC for some may focus on addressing the front-end access, presentation, delivery, and visualization requirements of analytic applications. Alternately, others may encompass a wider scope including data warehousing; data integration; data quality; master data management (MDM); and many other analytics-relevant infrastructures, processes, and tools.

5 - Support IT only or All Stakeholders?
Information and knowledge management pros must determine whether their organizational culture is ready to support BISC beyond BI infrastructure in scope.

6 - Type of Funding Model?
BISC can be treated as a corporate cost center, and all departments across the enterprise can use and benefit from BISC services. A cost allocation model based on the actual usage of BISC services can be fairer, but detailed, activity-based cost allocation models can be tricky to set up, implement, and manage.

7 - Narrow or Broad Scope?
Forrester recommends business leadership and business-led governance orientation, not a technology-centric focus, for the BISC. The same road map principles that apply to the best practices of implementing BI apply to the BISC: strategy first, architecture next, technology last.

8 - Performance Measurement Approach?
BISC stakeholders require transparent measurements of the success of the BISC program in order to support ongoing momentum and funding. BISC leaders must establish a clear set of BISC performance metrics and clearly communicate them on a periodic basis.

9 - Isolated or Aligned With Other Solution Centers?
No BI environment is an island from the rest of the data management infrastructure. Just as BI applications touch, depend on, and overlap with many related processes and technologies, BISCs cannot exist in isolation from other competency centers, solutions centers, or centers of excellence. Federation between the BISC and other data management competency centers is a best practice.

The Forrester wrote a good report, and I think this report can help companies to implement an effective BI Solution Center.

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