Supporting the Business

by | Feb 21, 2017

Hello, business leader!  How does your business grow?  Where are the weeds hiding?  Do you know?  Is this information that your business intelligence is providing?  Maybe not.  What needs to happen so that you will know?  Keep reading and I’ll give you my thoughts.
By default, business intelligence will develop answering questions as quickly as possible rather than focus on strategic or effectiveness ones. Knee jerk business intelligence results in metric-rich reporting, yes!  But who can tell if the business, shown in the dashboard below, is doing well or not!
The Ladder of Business Intelligence (LOBI) considers a business intelligence environment to be mature if it can deliver answers to the top 10 business questions quickly.
So, you have fresh January 2017 business strategies.  Can your business intelligence environment quickly turn around strategy related reporting?  From this are you making responsive business intelligence based business decisions?   Can you adapt quickly?  Increasing business productivity?  Probably not.  But you could.
LOBI business intelligence maturity needs strong collaboration between all business units (I’m including information technology as a business unit).
And, before you get carried away building the data you first need to identify the key business questions.
Top business questions cover the entire business, not just one business unit.  2017’s Strategy will cover finance, processes, organisational improvement and customer perspective at least.  So should the questions.
Struggling to identify “good” questions?  Try Mark Friedman’s Results Based Accountability (RBA) processes.  My quick take on RBA is that, like LOBI, all business units need to be committed.
All units need to agree to the big decisions (pink boxes) and be there for discussion and debate (gold boxes).
It’s a lot of work, but the effort sets the groundwork for better business decisions.  Which is sort of the point right?
Units have responsibility for implementing process improvements (blue boxes). This often involves collaboration between business units, external groups or partners and just as often a hive of hidden weak spots.   Monitor, set targets and improve where necessary.
You’ve agreed to the questions.  Next up are the business processes – these are hugely valuable as these are ultimately your data source.
At OptimalBI we strongly advocate Business Event Analysis and Modelling (BEAM).  BEAM documents business processes and identifies available data.  The methodology is even more useful as it sets out the data model your data warehouse developers can build from.
BEAM methodology was developed by Lawrence Corr (@LawrenceCorr) and Jim Stagnitto (@JimStag), their book Agile Data Warehouse Design: Collaborative Dimensional Modeling, from Whiteboard to Star Schema is available on Amazon and eBook if you’d like a closer look.
Two down (questions and business processes) one to go.
Technology options now come to the fore.  In my previous blog, Working with Information Technology, I strongly suggested including the business intelligence domain architect in any development and planning discussion.  The business intelligence domain architect is responsible for delivering a credible and performing business intelligence domain.
If they are aware of the business requirements (questions and processes) the domain architect can work on delivering a suitable technology solution.  Through the agreed documentation, covering questions, and business processes you have the making of a compelling business case.
This three point process is business intelligence BAU.  Design, build, release, review, repeat.
If the three points are in alignment and working to the ultimate goal of delivering fast, relevant business intelligence you will achieve business intelligence maturity.
Happiness is the sense of achievement once you’re on the path to maturity, and the bottle of wine to celebrate.
Have fun.
Data  – Mel.
Mel blogs about analytics, analytical tools and managing better business intelligence. 
Want to read more? Try … Preparing Excel Data for Analytics or more from Mel.
Go to our Data Driven Requirements course page to book you seat on the next course and learn how to use BEAM.

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