Designing and implementing a business intelligence programme

When implementing a BI programme one might like to pose a number of questions and take a number of resultant decisions, such as:

* Goal Alignment queries: The first step determines the short and medium-term purposes of the programme. What strategic goal(s) of the organization will the programme address? What organizational mission/vision does it relate to? A crafted hypothesis needs to detail how this initiative will eventually improve results / performance (i.e. a strategy map).

* Baseline queries: Current information-gathering competency needs assessing. Does the organization have the capability of monitoring important sources of information? What data does the organization collect and how does it store that data? What are the statistical parameters of this data, e.g. how much random variation does it contain? Does the organization measure this?

* Cost and risk queries: The financial consequences of a new BI initiative should be estimated. It is necessary to assess the cost of the present operations and the increase in costs associated with the BI initiative? What is the risk that the initiative will fail? This risk assessment should be converted into a financial metric and included in the planning?

* Customer and Stakeholder queries: Determine who will benefit from the initiative and who will pay. Who has a stake in the current procedure? What kinds of customers/stakeholders will benefit directly from this initiative? Who will benefit indirectly? What are the quantitative / qualitative benefits? Is the specified initiative the best way to increase satisfaction for all kinds of customers, or is there a better way? How will customers' benefits be monitored? What about employees,... shareholders,... distribution channel members?

* Metrics-related queries: These information requirements must be operationalized into clearly defined metrics. One must decide what metrics to use for each piece of information being gathered. Are these the best metrics? How do we know that? How many metrics need to be tracked? If this is a large number (it usually is), what kind of system can be used to track them? Are the metrics standardized, so they can be benchmarked against performance in other organizations? What are the industry standard metrics available?

* Measurement Methodology-related queries: One should establish a methodology or a procedure to determine the best (or acceptable) way of measuring the required metrics. What methods will be used, and how frequently will the organization collect data? Do industry standards exist for this? Is this the best way to do the measurements? How do we know that?

* Results-related queries: Someone should monitor the BI programme to ensure that objectives are being met. Adjustments in the programme may be necessary. The programme should be tested for accuracy, reliability, and validity. How can one demonstrate that the BI initiative (rather than other factors) contributed to a change in results? How much of the change was probably random?.

Gilbert on Tuesday, February 21, 2006


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