Thursday, January 8, 2009

Business Intelligence: 10 Common Mistakes

Datamation published an article called Business Intelligence: 10 Common Mistakes, written by Larry Marion, with a list of the top 10 mistakes about BI that you should avoid, why and how (with some comments of the experts Howard Dresner, Wayne Eckerson and Mark Graham Brown):

1- Lack of executive sponsorship and active business involvement
Everyone knows that any major IT effort needs executive sponsorship, but in the case of a BI implementation the big mistake by the CFO, the chief marketing officer or other sponsor is to not be actively involved. It takes frequent injections of business process and strategy savvy to guide the IT team and prevent scope or data creep.

Without continuous guidance from the business side, "IT tries to stuff everything into a warehouse to address absolutely any question a user could conceivably ask," notes Howard Dresner.

2- Inadequate scrutiny over the data
Poor quality data can destroy the credibility and utilization of data warehouses and business intelligence systems.

3- Not easy to use
The user interface, graphics and what-if query capabilities have to be intuitive.

4- Poor performance
User expectations about query response times will be much higher than you realize. "Some organizations are cursed with success and can't seem to keep up with user demand," warns Wayne Eckerson.

5- Too many or too few tools
Both Dresner and Eckerson warn that IT has to be careful about how many tools are available. Too many tools lead to a lot of confusion and soaring training costs. Too few tools frustrate the users.

6- Going it alone
If you're in a big company, urge the CIO to develop a BI Competency Center. A core group of experts within your organization can become internal consultants to business units. The competency center approach will help avoid a huge number of mistakes and wasted money.

7- Allowing the spreadmart plague to spread
Eckerson invented the term spreadmart in 2002 as a label for the proliferation of mini-data warehouses and business intelligence systems based on spreadsheets. Eckerson wrote an article, called Reeling in Spreadmarts- The Proliferation of Spreadmarts, with a number of tips on how to combat the problem.

8- Inflexible design
Build a rigid data warehouse and business intelligence system is a sure fire route to misery. IT should consider which parts of the system are most likely to need updating or revision.

9- Ignoring external data
Mark Graham Brown, a performance management expert, says that external factors such as economic, political, regulatory and consumer trends may need to be considered and incorporated into a BI or performance management system to make it truly effective and useful.

10- Wrong customer data
If customer satisfaction is a key metric for your organization and the IT department is asked to implement a performance management system to create and track this, ignore urges to just use survey data.

When you are developing a BI/PM initiative, is very important take care with the mistakes like these. At the most times, those kind of mistakes can make the initiative fails.

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