Best Practices: Business Intelligence Project Management
Business Intelligence tools have been one of the most prolific software investments for many organizations in the last decade; from Fortune 100 companies to small 100 person organizations. Providing historical, current, and predictive views of business operations, BI tools offer limitless possibilities within your organization. From analysts identifying and analyzing opportunities and trends to helping business decisions makers such as CEOs and CFOs to quickly review and understand business issues, a well designed BI application can provide significant ROI to your corporation.
Business Intelligence projects are cross-organizational in nature. Managing a BI project is considerably more involved than managing traditional software application development. It requires different techniques and methodologies to succeed due to the complex business requirements and the various software and hardware technologies involved.
Typically a BI project has the following steps:
Business Requirement Gathering
In many cases business users will be responsible for gathering and prioritizing business needs; documenting them as formal business requirements; interacting with the business side on the data accuracy, quality and completeness; and ensuring the business provides feedback on how well the solutions generated meet their needs.
This step provides the necessary information to better understand the present state as well as the knowledge needed to properly plan for the amount of time, money and resources needed to accomplish project goals and objectives. Specifically it defines the project scope, effort (time), budget, and resources.
Understanding requirements is critical. BI and IT professionals should thoroughly analyze business requirements and translate them into technical requirements. From a technical aspect this documentation will outline technologies, tools, resources involved and deliverables. The translation process also helps technical and business teams to ensure they are on the same page.
Technical Architecture and Design
Once the target is defined, BI architects will select the appropriate tools and technology, create data models, map the overall workflow from source systems to BI analytics, and oversees the database ETL and BI development teams from a technical perspective. Often BI development teams will work with Database ETL teams to define the business and data requirements, as well as the target data models to be used by BI applications.
This stage includes but is not limited to creating and developing BI content such as models, metrics, reports, analysis, query, and ETL process to create well designed and performance focused data marts/data warehouse, as well as security implementation.
Extensive QA testing of the BI content, ETL processes, and system load are critical before go live. Obviously, business user testers will provide feedback on overall functionalities, features, and even data accuracy, while technical testing will ensure the integration and performance of entire system.
The amount of work involved in this step is often overlooked. Many BI tools have out-of-box capabilities to easily transfer BI content between different environments. However setting up and configuring a production environment is not an easy task. Typically this will be a collaborative effort between IT and select BI teams. Tasks will involve but not be limited too; selecting appropriate hardware to ensure performance, putting tightened security in place, making the database/DW production ready, installing and configuring the necessary software and more. Each little detail is critical to ensure a successful go-live day. Standardizing the procedure and process is highly recommended.
Maintenance and Ongoing Administration
Whether you are supporting one BI application with only five users or multiple BI applications with thousands users, system administration and maintenance are vital. Increased BI adoption and user satisfaction are the key measurements for a BI tool investment.
One project’s success is often the starting point for another project. Well archived documents will not only make it easier for later project extensions but also help to identify and solve issues when they arise. Something as simple as a few lines of explanation in the code could save hours of development, while clear business requirement documents will help future developers quickly understand the business logic.
Leading a BI project to its successful implementation requires many skills and traits that range from common project management and software development abilities to unique knowledge and experiences. The cornerstone of any successful project is the project manager. Ironside Group Project Management Services ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. We work closely with your teams to understand your business initiatives and corporate priorities as well as the technologies being used. In addition, our project managers have the ability to keep a project on track and interact with analysts, developers and business champions in order to ensure success. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions on how to make your BI project successful.