Being a data driven business

Once you start to understand your data and the information is available throughout the business, a whole new world will open up to everyone that has access to the data. You will be able to see not only how the business is doing as a whole, but how each department of the business is doing as well as how employees are doing personally. With the same information (your single source of truth) being accessed across your business and the same story being told to everyone, not only is that powerful because you now have everyone seeing and reading the same data but the entire business is now moving in the same direction. To keep the business moving all in the same direction, to share a common goal, and to make sure all departments are doing what they need to do is extremely important because this will help drive up revenue and this will lower cost by seeing which areas within departments can be enhanced. With all the great information that you start to see, do not ever be satisfied with what your data is telling you. I think the most important thing that a business can do once the business intelligence solution is in place is not stop asking questions around the data. I know I have had many people state to me if you understand data then you can make smart decisions. Understanding the data is really beneficial and really helpful in guiding your business at that moment, I am talking about not being satisfied with all the results that you are getting now from the information the business is seeing. What I am stating is for you and others to keep asking the questions that I have suggested below. You might remember these questions from elementary school in regards to a English class. By asking these questions, you will keep moving the business, the department and the employees in the right direction.

Who: Who is the data about? Who is collecting the data? Collecting data across multiple who’s will give you a firm grasp of what is going on across multiple who’s and not a single who.

What: Of course you want to know what your data is about. Know what makes up the data and know what makes up the numbers behind the data.

When: Have a firm understanding of when your data has been or is being collected. Most data that is being collected is linked to a timeframe and knowing the time of your data is important to what decisions you make now or in the future.

Why: Knowing why the data has been collected can help you understand what needs to be shown to help the business. The constant asking of why this data is being collected will keep the data in check to make sure it has meaning and not tied to some crazy agenda that someone has gone of on. If it is tied to an agenda be cautious and keep asking questions.

How: The last question is how. How was this data collected? If you are purchasing or using an external data file you need to know how this data was collected and/or aggregated. Do you feel comfortable with the data, do you trust it?


Getting ready to start a BI Solution?

Before building out the plan for a bi solution project, I always like to think about what other projects that I have done or know about that are similar to the one I am going to embark on. I always ask myself what issues or obstacles did I encounter in those projects? There are so many reasons why projects get dragged out or just do not succeed, either from the start or they dwindle out if the project exceeds its expected delivery date. Lets just review some and see how many you came across in your professional career on why a project has failed.


  • No Executive sponsorship. There is no real buy in from the senior management team, which can lead to many different problems for the success of the project. You have to be persistent here and spend time presenting and socializing how important this project is to them and the company.


  • Battle between departments. Believe it or not I have run into this issue so many times when I have investigated why so many companies have failed in implementing a business intelligence solution. So what I mean here is that each department is acting like a ten year old child that does not want to share their data or their process because they believe it is their own secret sauce or they have something to hide.


  • No real project plan in place. This is were a company decides they would like to shoot from the hip on this project. They have no real kick off, no steps, no definition of what success is for the project, no anything. They fail to realize that this is a company wide project and the need for a project plan not only holds everyone accountable but ensures the right steps are completed before the next step are taken. It is this mentality that will kill any project almost from the start,


  • The IT department wants to build everything from scratch. This can be a problem in a lot of companies were the IT department wants to build everything custom. This can be not only very time extensive but also very costly. I always tell my clients to take the build, buy, or align approach when looking at the different areas of a project. There are several reasons when you should consider building a custom application over buying or aligning: Off the shelf products cannot meet every need, off the shelf products are to rigid, off the shelf products may not be compatible with your existing applications. Now let me give you several reason when you should be thinking of buying an off the shelf product: budget is limited, lack of time, lack of technical proficiency, and technology would not give you a competitive edge.


Above are just a few examples why your project could take longer than expected to be completed or just fail. I am sure that you can think of many more or even have experienced many more. I know in my long career as an IT professional I have come across reasons why projects have failed that would make people laugh and then some other reason that would make people cry. I will save those stories maybe for another blog. I think the main reason why I wanted to get you thinking about project failure is so that history doesn’t repeat itself and I am a firm believer that if you can learn from all failures, you will have a more successful future.