1Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comWhy Business Intelligence Projects FailAuthor:Chandr...
2Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comJust Implement, Dont care of Future needsJust Implem...
3Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comthey next need a how. The why and how are closely co...
4Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comother departments and stakeholders. They should be a...
5Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comSome of the other challenges that organizations will...
6Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comas the management of sales. As a result, corporate d...
7Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comfind the information necessary to perform their task...
8Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.commust be able to audit and manage its quality. Analys...
9Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.combetween the marketing, sales and IT department is al...
10Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comWhen it comes to establishing standards for busines...
11Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.commany companies simply dont shop wisely when it come...
12Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comthe charts, the simple presentation which is shown ...
13Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comJust Implement, Dont care of Work QualityThe succes...
14Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comMany companies choose to emphasize price over value...
15Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comDespite this, many organizations choose to use such...
16Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comThis is crucial as not every company has the resour...
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Why Business Intelligence Projects Fail ?


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Business intelligence projects are designed to allow organizations to make better long term strategic decisions. In theory, BI allows organizations to collect organize and use data in a manner that increases their market share. However, reality is often different from theory, and this is certainly true in the case of most business intelligence projects.

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Why Business Intelligence Projects Fail ?

  1. 1. 1Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comWhy Business Intelligence Projects FailAuthor:Chandra Vennapoosa Published on: 24th May 2013Why Business Intelligence Projects Fail ...................................................................................................1Just Implement, Dont care of Planning ...........................................................................................2Just Implement, Dont care of Business............................................................................................3Just Implement, Dont care of TCO..................................................................................................4Just Implement, Dont care of Future Issues....................................................................................5Just Implement, Dont care of Data Quality.....................................................................................6Just Implement, Dont care of Future Changes ...............................................................................8Just Implement, Dont care of Future Needs....................................................................................9Just Implement, Dont care of Shopping ........................................................................................10Just Implement, Dont care of Dash Boards...................................................................................11Just Implement, Dont care of Work Quality.................................................................................13Just Implement, Dont care of Performance...................................................................................14Business intelligence projects are designed to allow organizations to make better long termstrategic decisions. In theory, BI allows organizations to collect organize and use data in amanner that increases their market share. However, reality is often different from theory, and thisis certainly true in the case of most business intelligence projects.Previous studies have shown that about 80 percent of all BI projects fail, while only 20 percentare a success. When you factor in the high costs necessary to implement such projects, it is easyto see why many organizations have lost faith in BI. However, it would be simplistic as well asinaccurate to say that the problem lies with BI itself. Many prominent corporations havesuccessfully implemented business intelligence projects to great effect. This is an indication thatthe failure of most BI projects lies elsewhere.Just Implement, Dont care of PlanningJust Implement, Dont care of BusinessJust Implement, Dont care of TCOJust Implement, Dont care of Future IssuesJust Implement, Dont care of Data QualityJust Implement, Dont care of Future Changes
  2. 2. 2Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comJust Implement, Dont care of Future needsJust Implement, Dont care of ShoppingJust Implement, Dont care of Dash BoardsJust Implement, Dont care of Work QualityJust Implement, Dont care of PerformanceJust Implement, Dont care of PlanningIt is important for stakeholders to understand that BI implementation is a long term process anddevelop a clear cut plan which is compatible with the BI tools they intend to use. Implementationof BI project should not be done haphazardly since adequate planning as well as time duration isessential for BI applications to function properly.BI planning should take place "before" the company begins searching for a BI vendor. Manystakeholders and upper managers believe that if they simply purchase the application, and beginusing it, they will be successful. However, this is like buying a car in Philadelphia with the goalof driving it to New York, without having any clue how you will get there. It isnt enough to justbuy the car; you need a map, knowledge of how to drive the car and a detailed plan on how youwill drive it from Philadelphia to New York. Otherwise, you will get lost.This is precisely what happens to most organizations that attempt BI implementation. Theypurchase BI application, but they have no plan as to how they will use it. As a result, they getlost when trying to implement it, and this leads to frustration which eventually causes them togive up. Because they give up, the BI project becomes little more than a very expensive paperweight.In order for a BI project to be a success, an organization must do more than just purchase anapplication with the expectation of it being a magic bullet. Such expectations will lead todisappointment. Any company that wishes to master BI must develop a plan in advance, and thisplanning must involve the transformation of the entire firm in such a way which is compatiblewith the application they intend to use.First and foremost, the implementation of a BI project must have the endorsement of uppermanagement. Without this endorsement, the project will be doomed from the start. Whendeciding to implement a BI project, upper management should also plan the creation of a trainingtool which is designed to teach employees the usage of the app. It isnt enough for a handful ofemployees or managers to understand a BI project; everyone in the organization must understandit and how it will make the firm more profitable. It is also important for organizations tounderstand "why" they need a business intelligence project in the first place. It isnt enough tojust say that the project is needed because competitors are using it; this is unacceptable. A moredetailed "why" should be given, as this will lead to the proper planning which is necessary forsuccessfully implementing the project?An expression I will use to describe this phenomenon is called "why leads to how." What I meanby this is that a company must first decide why they need a BI project. Once they have a why,
  3. 3. 3Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comthey next need a how. The why and how are closely correlated, and one naturally follows theother. It is the "how" that will lead to the decision of which vendor to use, because once you havea why and a how, you will have a plan, and this plan will allow you to purchase an app from avendor who meets your needs.Just Implement, Dont care of BusinessBecause large organizations are often compartmentalized, conflicts can occur betweendepartments, especially when one department makes a decision that negatively impacts another.For instance, while the IT department may see a clear need for a BI project, other departmentsmay see no such need, and may refuse to adapt to the project. As a result, a scenario is created inwhich IT embraces a BI application, while other departments or upper management are lessenthusiastic about it.Without the full support of the other departments, the BI project is not utilized across theorganization, and its implementation is ultimately a failure. The necessity of an organizationfully supporting a BI project is directly correlated to the proper planning of the project. When theproject isnt fully supported, the planning for its implementation will likely be insufficient, andthis lack of efficient planning will make it difficult for the project to succeed.BI project failures can often be attributed to a lack of synergy among the different departmentsthat comprise a firm. It simply isnt enough for the IT department to embrace it; the project mustbe embraced by the entire organization in order to succeed, and this embrace starts with theleadership.There are a number of reasons as to why an organization may need a BI project. Many of thesereasons are often technical in nature, and may only be fully understood by the IT department. Forexample, there could be a situation where there are multiple reporting systems, and each of thesesystems needs the support of IT. Because such systems are becoming outdated, there may be aneed for updates. There could also be a need to replace reporting tools which are fat client withnewer ones that are web based. Such a replacement will require the removal of numerousservers, which would save a lot of time as well as money for the people that need to managethem.However, these technical issues will often be poorly understood by the other departments andupper management. When an IT department desires a BI project, they should focus less on thetechnical reasons for its implementation, and emphasize more on business reasons. The otherdepartments will be concerned with their own affairs, and upper management will be concernedwith the bottom line. Unless a ROI (return on investment) or cost benefit analysis can be clearlydemonstrated, it is unlikely that the other departments or upper management will fully embrace aBI Project. This relates to the "why leads to how" expression that I stated previously.Companies will often find themselves in situations where one department will see a clear needfor better information, while another department may see no such need. For this reason, the goalof IT or any other department that wishes to initiate a BI project should be the education of the
  4. 4. 4Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comother departments and stakeholders. They should be able to fully articulate the benefits and needsof the project, and how it will better the entire organization, as opposed to just their department.Many departments that decide to implement a BI project operate with the assumption that oncethey implement it, the people will come. This is a faulty assumption that should be discarded.Instead, these departments will want to communicate with senior management, explaining tothem how BI technology can be utilized in a manner that increases the organizations bottomline. The technical details of the project are best left at the door, as it may confuse seniormanagers who are primarily concerned with results, and not how those results are achieved.There is always the possibility that upper management will not see the need for such a project,and if they dont, you can be sure that other departments wont either. Therefore, if the ITdepartment chooses to press forward with the implementation anyway, they should be heldaccountable for its failure (which is likely). A business intelligence project simply cannotsucceed when it doesnt have the full support of senior management and other departments.Just Implement, Dont care of TCORegarding business intelligence, there seems to be a perception that the BI component doesnthave a cost, since it is already included within the database. Additionally, many stakeholdersfactor in the costs for the infrastructure and the need to service it, without considering the TCO(total cost of ownership). This is yet another reason why many BI projects fail.In order for a BI project to be a success, the TCO must always be considered. There have beencases where companies used their BI applications to acquire data from Excel, and then managersspent hours each day working with it, trying to decide which products they needed to promotemore often, and in which stores they needed to promote them. Because more than two dozenmanagers spent a quarter of their business day doing this, it was estimated that the companyactually spent over half a million dollars each year. In three years, that would grow to $1.5million. Over 10 years, that would grow to a staggering $5 million.However, what if this organization had a BI tool that allowed its managers to get theirinformation in seconds, rather than hours? In that case, the company would save $500,000 ayear. When a company is considering the implementation of a BI project, they must look beyondthe license fees. Equally (and some would argue more important), is the need to look at TCO.Factoring in TCO will better allow the organization to get a ROI which is more accurate.One common mistake which increases the costs of a BI project is a failure to properly handledata integration, especially when multiple applications are involved. This one issue will oftensingle handedly determine the success or failure for a BI project. Many companies simply dontunderstand the challenges of managing data with BI until the project is initiated. Even in caseswhere IT has the ability to deal with these challenges, the cost for the company can be very high.This is true regardless of whether a company relies on their internal IT department, or an outsidesource.
  5. 5. 5Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comSome of the other challenges that organizations will face in successfully implementing BI is thedelivery of the tool to multiple end users, enhancing ease of use for users that are nontechnical,and developing capabilities for BI which are customized. Unless the organization is able toachieve all of these things successfully, a scenario can occur in which users fail to adopt the BIapp, a problem which is consistently seen. Even in cases where end users are willing to adopt theapplication, any issues with the three aspects mentioned above will make the problem worse.Companies that succeed with BI often do so because they start small. Once the BIimplementation reaches an enterprise level, any problems that do occur can be serious ones.Just Implement, Dont care of Future IssuesMany organizations initiate BI projects without first running a RACT test. RACT is acronymwhich stands for Relevant, Accurate, Consistent, and Timely. Unless a business intelligenceproject can pass this test, then it should be considered a failure, and the creators of the projectshould go back to the planning phase.The R (relevant) of RACT answers the question of who needs the deliverables. Additionally, itasks one of the most important questions of all, which is what problem is meant to be solved bythe project implementation? Once an organization has an answer to these two questions, this willbetter allow it to figure out the cost. When factoring in costs, the organization will want toemphasize TCO rather than other fees which are more obvious.The A (accurate) of RACT indicates the accuracy of the reporting, as well as the dashboards. Ifthis information is inaccurate, then the organization should go back to the beginning. The reasonfor this is because inaccurate reporting is a sign that the project is already unsuccessful, andpushing forward anyway will make things worse(and more expensive).The C (consistent) of RACT indicates that all the information and reporting must be consistent.The T (timely) of RACT means that the information must be available when needed. It isntenough to just have access to information; that information must be made available in a timelymanner.Unless a BI project can pass this stringent test, then an organization has no business goingforward with it, as doing so will only ensure the projects failure.The RACT test is important because it will better allow organizations to differentiate "corporatedata" from "strategic data." Corporate data is the data that is usually raw, data which is oftenreadily available. Strategic data, on the other hand, is data which will give organizations businesswisdom, wisdom which will allow them to grow their profits consistently. Put another way,corporate data is transactional in nature; strategic data deals with long term strategy andplanning.While corporate data is crucial for dealing with the logistical aspects of a business, such as thesupply chain or accounts receivable, it is insufficient to carry out the marketing process, as well
  6. 6. 6Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comas the management of sales. As a result, corporate data alone will not allow an organization togrow its market share, nor will it allow for an increase in revenue and thus profit.The reason for this is because the corporate data is merely a byproduct for the ERP (order entrysystem), which is created mainly for the purpose of shipping orders within a timely manner. TheERP is not designed to use strategic data in a manner that makes it useful for marketing.The problem with most BI projects is that they combine complex software with raw ERP data.This is insufficient since the data from the ERP will generally not contain information which isrelated to marketing intelligence. This is why many BI projects do not readily offer the strategicdirection which is needed to expand the business, which would essentially leave the marketingteam in a situation where theyre struggling to get the data they need in order to increaserevenues. This is also why many marketing and sales teams frequently abandon BI projects.The RACT test is best thought of as a screening tool which allows one to determine whether ornot a BI project should even be initiated. Without such a test, an organization or department willbe unable to spot the problems that will eventually lead to a costly failure. It is important to seeBI as being more than just a piece of software. It is better thought of as a process, one which willallow a firm to transform corporate data into strategic data that will be accurate and relevant.When considering BI, the goal of an organization should be the integration of corporate andstrategic data. This will comprise things such as the customer segmentation, sales projection andcompetitive analysis. This process is best completed by running a RACT test first. In a nutshell,this test will allow an organization to determine whether or not it is ready for BI. While there isno question that business intelligence is effective in allowing organizations to increase theirbottom line, they can only accomplish this if they are prepared for BI. Business intelligenceprojects are often long and complex, and this requires preparation and changes on the part of thefirm.Just Implement, Dont care of Data QualityWhen it comes to a BI project, the quality of the data is critically important. When the data iswrong, then the decisions made based on that data will also be wrong. These wrong decisionswill eventually cause the department or organization to lose faith in the project. In cases where adata warehouse is being utilized, it will be necessary to filter out data which is incorrect. Thisshould be done during the ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) stage.The proper management of the data is closely correlated to a data warehouse which has gooddata. The best way to deal with problems in data quality is to mitigate the problem at its source.In this case, the source would be the source systems, as this is where information is placed.A number of studies indicate that companies lose almost $10 million each year as a result of poordata. Other studies have also shown that bad data leads to an increase in customer dissatisfaction,which will consequently lead to a loss in customers, increasing the losses further. Whenorganizations attempt to implement BI, some of the problems that they face are an inability to
  7. 7. 7Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comfind the information necessary to perform their tasks, as well as mistakenly using the wronginformation.As you can see, the quality of the data is not something that should be taken lightly. Anadditional cause for concern is an increase in the corporate data that companies must digest;studies indicate that this corporate data is growing at a rate of over 40 percent per year. Thefundamental challenge of business intelligence software is that such software is much moreadvanced than the structure and quality of the data. Many firms find that after spending millionson such software, the only thing they have to show for it is an ocean of data, much of which theycant make much use of.It isnt uncommon for a BI app to be completely inept when it comes to providing strategic dataor analysis. It will often be necessary for a large team of analysts to download the corporate data,place it within spreadsheets like Excel, and then manipulate and clean the data in such a way thatit can be useful. This process can take hours or days, and it costs companies huge amounts ofmoney.Even when it is known that transactional (corporate) data has errors, oftentimes these errors arenot fixed, and they are then placed within the BI systems, making a bad problem worse.It doesnt help that many departments within organizations fail to communicate with each other.The marketing or sales departments will often assume that the problem lies with IT, and they willexpect IT to resolve the issue, while the IT department will assume that it is a business issue, onewhich should be corrected by the sales or marketing team. As a result, neither side takes action,nor the data is rarely corrected. This will eventually cause employees to give up on the BIimplementation, and they continue to place incorrect data within the BI system, compoundingthe problem until it becomes too difficult or expensive to solve.When an analyst uses the typical BI system to answer a question regarding profits or marketshare, they will often have to wait days in order to get a response. The reason for this is becausethey will need to process the queries, send them to the spreadsheet, and then cleanse the errors(often manually), while using look ups from external sources of data. Last, they will need toconstruct pivot tables that will assist in finding the needed answers. Each time the analyst wantsan update, they will need to start the entire process over again.Not only is this method highly inefficient, it also creates a scenario where the correction of thedata is based on the assumptions of the analyst, which itself can lead to problems. Manydepartments have team meetings where much of the time is spent bickering about whose versionof the data is right, rather than dealing with the issues that are more important. The numbers thatare presented by finance often wont match those offered by marketing. What everyone needs isone version of the facts, but because different sides are running distinct queries, with differentassumptions, this is easier said than done.Though the IT department may control the physical storage and security of the data, it is themarketing and sales departments that must control the strategic meaning of this data, and they
  8. 8. 8Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.commust be able to audit and manage its quality. Analysts who spend a lot of time cleaning the datashould focus instead on being data stewards who clean and structure corporate data through theusage of market intelligence which is external. This should be done prior to placing this data inthe data warehouse of the BI system. This should be done on a weekly basis.Just Implement, Dont care of Future ChangesMany of the requirements which are necessary for a BI project this year will be outdated by nextyear. It is crucial to understand that BI systems evolve, as with all complex systems. Therefore,users will need to adopt the application in a manner which will allow them to handle the newrequirements which will come.It is necessary for stakeholders to ensure that their organization is not only prepared for thischange, but also capable of displaying the flexibility which is needed to properly harness it.However, having an organization which is prepared is not enough. It is also important to beselective in the BI application that will be utilized. The application which is chosen should matchthe flexibility of the users, as well as the inevitable changes which will occur in the market. Thebudget for the BI implementation should also allow for this.One common mistake that enterprises make is the manner in which they approach BIimplementation. It is best to see business intelligence as being cyclical. Each cycle of the projectmust provide greater insight; a new angle for the firm which will raise more questions that mustbe answered. In other words, there is no such thing as "finishing" a BI project. Like night andday, one naturally gives way to the other, in a cycle which is endless.Many firms fail to receive a return on their investment, because they choose BI tools which areinflexible. Even if an organization has the preparation and flexibility which is necessary tosuccessfully use a BI app, they will still fail if they choose an inferior application. A goodanalogy to describe this is an expert electrician who chooses inferior tools for his job. Regardlessof his skill and preparation, the quality of his work will still decline.The new generation BI tools are user friendly, and they can assist companies in exploiting thejewels of information which can be found in their respective markets. Many of these "jewels"will be hidden within sands of data. Good BI tools will allow casual users to become powerusers. One feature which is commonly seen in high end BI applications is advanced datavisualization.This emphasis on visualization is due to the fact that much of human sensory perception is basedon vision, while only a smaller portion is based on the other senses. In fact, the human brain isbetter at detecting trends within shapes and patterns as opposed to gaining such data usingspreadsheets.Some firms have chosen to embrace these applications without consulting with their ITdepartments first. However, it would be a mistake to think that these applications are IT free, orthat the IT department is no longer useful. Building and maintaining a strong relationship
  9. 9. 9Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.combetween the marketing, sales and IT department is always important. The reason for this isbecause it is necessary to be sure that the quality of the data is high. Furthermore, it is necessaryas it ensures that there is a single version of the facts. The self-serving function seen in some BIapplications allows for the user to carry out exploration for the data, without the need to ask theIT department for data marts or reports which are predefined. The reason for this is because itwould slow down the analysis.Just Implement, Dont care of Future NeedsThe compartmentalization of large organizations often gives rise to scenarios where the needs ofone department will conflict with those of another. When this happens during a BI projectimplementation, it can cause that project to fail. When speaking of business intelligence, weoften hear the expression "one version of the truth." What this implies is that successfullyimplementing BI involves more than just high end software; there is also a need to deal with thepolitics and conflict that will inevitably occur between departments.The effort that is required to properly model data is formidable. This task becomes more arduouswhen you consider the fact that the truth is rarely in plain view. Business information which ishighly valuable will often need to be mined, and it will need to be taken from data which isdisparate. The data from which the needed info will be taken will also exist in multiple databasesand programs, much of which are incompatible. Because of this, it is important to realize that itcould take months (and extreme attention to detail) in order to combine and prep the data in away that will allow you to get the valuable info you need.One large pharmaceutical company found it necessary to take data from fourteen differentsystems, and each of these systems handled a portion of its business which was distinct. The goalwas to gain a solid financial picture of the multibillion dollar firm. The IT department for thiscompany started the process by designing numerous software interfaces, which would beresponsible for connecting the fourteen distinct systems to the data warehouse, which was usedas a single place for information.The challenge that this company faced was that the terms for the business and the financialaspects of the organization were designated differently in each of the systems which contributedthe data. In other words, though the pharmaceutical company was able to bring all the datatogether, it ultimately failed. The reason it failed is because data standards were not properlyutilized.Acquiring data from a single location is only one part of successfully implementing BI.Companies must learn to place a greater importance on information content, as opposed to howthis content is delivered. In the case of the pharmaceutical company mentioned above, theyneeded to spend months creating a new collection of standards which would allow them to cutthe data into the proper context. While the reporting tools are a necessary component of BIimplementation, they are useless if they arent combined with the correct data structure andinformation.
  10. 10. 10Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comWhen it comes to establishing standards for business and finance, it is important to realize thatthis process doesnt end. To reach a single version of the truth, it will be necessary to askquestions. And this process of asking questions is something that should be seen as an ongoingprocess. When a firm implements a BI project, even with established reports and definitions,situations may still arise in which people will want different definitions.For instance, one department may need depreciation factored into their calculations, whileanother department may not need it at all. Sometimes, upper management may want to havecosts taken from the portion of business where they are reported, and recorded in a standalonemode. Most companies handle these requests by designing a lot of reports which are ad hoc todeal with each request. This will eventually lead to problems, problems which could eventuallycause the BI implementation to stagnate.It is better to design a way in which the requests for change can be channeled through acommittee, which would be responsible for reviewing them, and then accepting or denying themafter review. That way, changes can be done within a central database, which will allow for thenewer reports to be created.In situations where the numbers may be divided into different departments, they will still beplaced into one number for the whole company, a number which will represent the bottom line. Itdoes require more work, but it is much better to spend more time altering things within thedatabase. The truth should always be seen as a phenomenon which constantly moves, andbecause it is in constant movement, you must be able to do the necessary work for altering thedatabase, as opposed to allowing each user to make adjustments within their reports.Just Implement, Dont care of ShoppingIt is a mistake to believe that there is a standard for BI implementation, and organizations whichhold this belief are liable for making mistakes when shopping for an application. Manycompanies think that the best way to approach a BI implementation is via a purchase throughtheir current vendor. They believe that the ERP, CRM or analytics tools offered by these vendorsare sufficient for their needs.The chosen vendors will often have an advantage over their competitors since they will be ableto offer various cost incentives, not to mention the ability to leverage their current relationshipwith the firm. Many of these vendors will also take advantage of the fears and uncertainty thatstakeholders will generally hold with regard to implementing BI. However, after using theproducts offered by these vendors, many organizations will find out later on that integrating theirentire organization within the BI tools offered by these vendors is very expensive, moreexpensive than if they had carried out a proper analysis of the available tools, comparing them totheir needed requirements.Even for a small business, the usage of BI can increase its growth and profits, but only when it isproperly deployed. In order for this to occur, the business cant just use the products offered byany vendor, even if that vendor already has a solid relationship with the company. Unfortunately,
  11. 11. 11Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.commany companies simply dont shop wisely when it comes to choosing a vendor for their BIimplementation, and this mistake will often cause the project to fail later on.Prior to searching for a vendor, it will first be necessary for a company to have a deepunderstanding of the regions, customers or products which are profitable to their business.Having this information will better allow them to choose a vendor who will help them expand.Additionally, it will also be important for the company to have knowledge of the customers orsegments which are causing the company to lose cash.If the business has more than a few dozen customers, then the Pareto Principle (80/20 principle)will be revealed. In such cases, a few of these clients will bring in about 50 percent of the profits,while the rest will generate much less. It is difficult for many companies to figure out whichclients belong in each category. By strategically using business intelligence applications, theywill be able to answer these questions, and more.However, businesses will need to look for vendors that can provide them with completesolutions. This includes client support which involves training from the vendor, as well as vendorrepresentatives who are locally available. Regarding the product itself, businesses should onlychoose those applications which have the flexibility to sustain multiple types of data. Theprocessing speed and ability to perform several operations simultaneously should also be afactor.Is the application stable? Will it remain reliable in the years ahead? Basic security should beincluded, such as usernames and password systems. The application should also be functional,with the ability to drill through what if scenarios or queries which are ad hoc. As simple as itmay sound, many companies have difficulty implementing BI because they choose apps withinterfaces that are too difficult to use. Not only should the interface be easy to use, but thelearning curve should be simple as well. The last thing that should be factored in is the cost.Unfortunately, for many businesses this is the first item on the list. They look at cost first, and allthe other features second. However, high quality BI applications will be worth the price, andattempting to choose an application purely based on price can lead to major problems later onwhich are much more costly.The best method for choosing a BI application is to do so by quantifying the needed criteria.Businesses should build a matrix which transforms the answers received into a percentage basedanswer which can be quantified.Just Implement, Dont care of Dash BoardsThe dashboard is best thought of as the "eye" which allows organizations to peer into their data,and it is the wisdom they gain from this data which will allow them to make progress. However,most of the dashboards offered by BI vendors today are little more than bar charts which havebeen placed on a page. Additionally, many of these dashboards are less intelligent than theyshould be. While the graphics have certainly improved, and users are better able to interact with
  12. 12. 12Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comthe charts, the simple presentation which is shown on the screen has not been vastly improved,and the charts are less useful than they should be.The dashboard is the most basic tool for providing business intelligence. The first dashboardsappeared during the 1980s, and while some say they have improved since then, others argue thattheyve largely remained the same. It can be problematic to place pie and bar charts on a screen,and expect that the viewers will be able to understand their meaning and what is important. It isrisky to assume that the viewer has the ability to interpret these charts, and draw the properconclusion. Many BI vendors believe that pretty or interactive dashboards are the key to success;that they will assist viewers in making better decisions.However, the failure to adopt BI tools, as well as the billions which have been spent (and lost) onthese applications indicate that there is a need for change. It is inaccurate to say that thetechnology has failed; it is better to look at the reasons that more firms arent successfully usingthe technology. One good place to start is looking at the dashboards which are used to display theinformation.Another problem with most contemporary dashboards is their inability to prioritize information.It is one thing to show charts which are geared towards a certain context. It is another thing toprioritize information in a manner which makes it similar to the news, with stories or headlinesthat people can watch in order to decide if they want to take a certain action. One reason whynewspapers have stood the test of time, whether in an electronic or print form, is because theyare shown in a format which the human mind can understand. How many BI dashboards are ableto communicate the tale of its charts the way newspapers do?The third problem that many organizations will encounter with BI dashboards is their inability toassist people in taking actions based on the info received. Most dashboards which are actionenabled place an emphasis on the discovery of data, and they also analyze by looking at rootcauses. However, these features cannot compete with the traditional process where peoplecollaborate via dialogue, discussing certain issues or opportunities.Regardless of the visual appeal of a dashboard, it will need a great deal of planning. A dashboardwhich shows info that is inconsistent, or which doesnt properly flow with other organizationaldata, may eventually cause a loss of confidence in the application, which will eventually causedepartments to stop using it. The data comprised by the dashboard must be verified and analyzedfor accuracy, because if it isnt, it will be little more than a nice looking picture with no value.The implementation of the dashboard must play an important role in the project.The development of service oriented architecture and other web based services is another way toimprove dashboards. Organizations are now gaining the ability to construct their owndashboards, which will allow them to get the data they need to make decisions, and show thedata in a manner that is appealing and easy to understand. Mobile apps can also be offered whichwill give easy to use data for mobile platforms. The solution to the problem of BI dashboardsmay be the adoption of BI tools which are self-service.
  13. 13. 13Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comJust Implement, Dont care of Work QualityThe success of a BI implementation will be heavily dependent on knowledge of how theorganization functions. Those who work to implement business intelligence apps will need toknow the location of the data, and how this data is used. Working with analysts who have thisinformation can save the company millions of dollars over the long term. At the same time, manycompanies choose to outsource their BI projects to others.The danger of outsourcing a BI project is that few outside sources will understand the policies,history, or customer demographics of a given firm. While these vendors may be capable ofmaking up for a shortage of skills, they wont be able to replace the knowledge of employeeswho have worked with the firm for years. When a company chooses to outsource its entire BIproject, it will often find itself in a scenario where it will be necessary terminate the project,working in-house instead. This transition can be both time consuming as well as expensive.Often, consultants will not be able to understand a business within a span of few weeks,especially if the business is large and established. Consultants are best utilized for providingresources that a company doesnt have, with the goal of transferring this knowledge to in-houseemployees. Not only will this allow companies to reduce their dependence on consultants, it willalso allow them to increase employee morale, as they gain the knowledge that will allow them toadopt the new processes.In many companies, you will find few employees who actually understand the inner workings oftheir firm. Fewer understand the data and culture which is necessary for proper BIimplementation. As a result, many companies find that they must depend on an outside sourcefor this process, a consultant that will work with them during the projects implementation.However, it can be extremely difficult to find a consultant who is truly interested in the business,and not just lining their own pocket. Even harder is finding a consultant who sees your businessas being their business.In this context, consultants are similar to mercenaries. While they may be highly trained, theirloyalty to the organization which employs them is always in question. The reason it is inquestion is because they are outsiders, merely hired to complete a task. Their primary incentivefor completing this task is money, and because of this, the quality and outcome of their workmay be lower than it should be. At the end of the day, the consultant is there to do a job, and thatconsultant makes his or her money by working with multiple clients. As a result, theirconcentration will often be divided.The problems mentioned in the above paragraphs are compounded when companies chooseconsultants based on cost, rather than quality. When planning a BI project, many companiesfocus too much on the consultants hourly rate. A greater emphasis should be placed on thedeliverable. It is important to remember that price is what you pay, and value is what you get.Paying a lower price doesnt guarantee that you will get greater value (and the same can be saidfor paying a higher price as well).
  14. 14. 14Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comMany companies choose to emphasize price over value, and as a result, they often lose far moremoney over the long term than they would have if they had focused on value. For example, let ussay that a firm decides to a hire a consultant for their business intelligence project. The firmchooses this consultant primarily because he is "cheaper" than the others. Little attention waspaid to the value of his work.After the BI project is completed and the consultant is on his way, the company then beginshaving problems. Not only did the consultant do a poor job during the implementation, he is nolonger available and fails to respond to emails and phone calls. The problems with BI continue togrow, and the company spends huge sums trying to fix them (unsuccessfully). The problemsbegin to affect the customers, and as a result, they begin using rival companies. Eventually, thecompany abandons the BI app, and the amount of money they lost in customers and trying torepair the problem are ten times higher than the rate they paid the consultant.This is what happens to companies that emphasize price over value. A price is a price. It may behigh and it may be low. But it shouldnt been seen as an indicator of anything, unless it iscompared to the value that is being offered. When choosing a consultant, it is important to lookat value and deliverables first, rather than price.The first step towards successfully implementing BI is to insource rather than outsource. It ismuch better to use an internal source for implementation as opposed to an outsider who has verylittle stake in the project. The loyalty and quality of a consultant will always be questionable, andthey will never have the insight that long term employees will have. An in-house team will havea much greater stake in the project, as they are a part of the company and its outcome will help orhinder them.If an in-house team doesnt currently exist, then the company should create one. Employeesshould be recruited or trained who have the ability to implement the BI project. If a consultantmust be used, he should always be regarded with caution, and the firm should seek to extract asmuch knowledge from them as possible so they are no longer needed. The goal should be totransfer this knowledge to the in-house team, where it can be used for the creation of a BI projectwhich is home grown. Creating an in-house team for BI may be time consuming up front, but thestrategic wisdom that the company will gain over the long term will be well worth it.Just Implement, Dont care of PerformanceWhen showcasing their products, vendors will typically show their applications processing datawhich is no more than a hundred thousand records. The problem with such demonstrations is thattheyre often insufficient for the needs of a large company, and this isnt discovered until theproduction implementation is started. Most large enterprises need applications which are capableof handling hundreds of millions of records, and there are a few enterprises which needapplications capable of handling billions of records. Clearly, an application that can only handlea few hundred thousand records isnt useful to these organizations.
  15. 15. 15Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comDespite this, many organizations choose to use such applications anyway, and the end result isinevitably disaster. Even if an application is capable of handling the data a company currentlyhas, what about a year from now? Two years? BI applications must be scalable, because theinflow of data will be. While some companies wisely choose products which can support largervolumes of data, they fail to factor in both the volume of users as well as the concurrency.It is important to understand that business intelligence involves a great deal of data, raw data thatwill have to be integrated within multiple systems. Only then can this data be turned intoinformation. Performance management is an important consideration because it allows anorganization to leverage this information. In many respects, the information is far more valuablethan the actual data, since the process of data transformation and integration will result in infothat can be used to make strategic decisions.While numerous executives have acknowledged that BI can provided data in the form of reports,dashboards, and querying, they still felt that most of these mainstream products were inefficient.The reason for this lack of content is because simply reporting information will not lead toimproved results. Actions must be taken based on the information which will allow the companyto grow. While having access to BI is crucial, it often comes at the expense of departmentsrequesting enhancements that IT simply cant provide.The ability to extend BI throughout the company is critical, and will determine the companysprofitability. However, management and improvement are not identical. It is possible for aperson to manage and break even. Improvement, by contrast, is the way in which you win.Performance involves the ability to deploy BI. Without performance considerations, businessintelligence has no direction.Business intelligence is the platform that will allow for queries and reports. It should beconsidered the foundation. However, performance management is the mechanism by whichstrategy will arise, and it will give businesses the ability to leverage the systems and processesthat can ultimately enhance their performance. A failure to consider performance management isone of the key reasons why BI implementations fail. BI only works when data is attached todecisions, and performance management in conjunction with BI is the way in which thishappens.Performance management and business intelligence should never be implemented in isolation.When they are integrated, the success of the project will grow. While software can enable you todo many things, it is the thinking that will ultimately decide the outcome. It is necessary to beable to visualize the possibilities to take full advantage of PM and BI.The first step in successfully managing performance is to choose a vendor/app that is capable ofhandling the data a company already possesses. Additionally, the chosen product must also bescalable. Once a vendor/app has passed this test, the company must also ensure that the productwill be capable of supporting both user and data volumes. Because runaway queries are aproblem for many departments, the chosen product should include safety mechanisms which arecapable of arresting them.
  16. 16. 16Why Business Intelligence Projects FailChandra VennapoosaExforsys.comThis is crucial as not every company has the resources to use DBA monitoring which isdedicated. Though this type of monitoring can find and destroy negative query threads, doing socan be very costly. Success with a BI project will ultimately be determined by making the properchoices, as well as choosing the proper technology and processes. However, the importance ofpeople should never be underestimated it. It is the people who will ultimately make or break theproject.While business intelligence is one of the key components in obtaining performance management,this is only possible when the business intelligence is available across the enterprise. Companiestoday are tasked with making business decisions which are effective; however, these decisionsmust also be made within a timely manner, and they must be made throughout the key areas ofthe business.In the past, it was possible to handle company challenges within departments; today, bothmanagers as well as executives must be able to handle changing conditions within the level ofthe enterprise. The ability to properly utilize information throughout the enterprise will allow oneversion of the truth to emerge; one which is actionable.I hope you enjoyed this white paper. Please add any additional things that can impact BI ProjectImplementation. You can reach me @Linkedin or Google+.Reference - Thanks to RaedAlhadhoud for sharing the base for this white paper