Gartner predicts that by 2012 more than 35 per cent of the top 5,000 global companies will fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets, because they lack the right information, processes and tools. In today’s competitive environment, this can mean the difference between company success and failure.
The challenge for both companies looking to implement business intelligence (BI) with standalone systems and those that will add it onto an existing ERP system, is how can the data that is gathered be used effectively?
There are several mistakes that businesses make when it comes to implementing a BI project.
- Most organisations fall into the trap of having a loose BI reporting strategy, but no idea of what processes to use and why. This can leave the BI project floundering because there are no guidelines on what data to gather and how it will be used.
- Organisations underestimate the time and effort required to implement BI properly, as well as the impact it will have on existing processes. Underestimating the business resources needed, how long it will take and failure to plan how the organisation can continue “business as usual” operations during the project can cause serious productivity strains.
- Lack of end-user training.End users directly experience the impact on existing processes and will need training on what the new processes are. Without training to demonstrate why new processes are necessary and how they work, there will be reluctance to use them resulting in lower productivity, confusion and errors.
- The majority of organisations fail to undertake post-project analysis to see what value they are getting from the implementation. Often after a project is completed, the organisation is gathering data but doesn’t know if it is using it correctly. As a result, there is no quantitative or qualitative proof to justify the expense of the project.
Adopting best practice
While mistakes are easy to make, adopting a few best practices can turn BI implementations into successful, value-creating projects. One of the most important best practices is not to treat BI as a point solution for just gathering data. Instead, it should be integrated into business processes, ideally throughout the entire organisation. However, in order to do this support is essential. Many organisations mistakenly leave the championing of BI to the IT department. Yet, IT should only be in charge of supporting the processes. Instead, board sponsorship is crucial, as is having as many senior stakeholders involved as possible. For example, the chief financial officer and chief executive officer should be involved, as well as stakeholders in each business unit such as HR, procurement and IT.
Ensuring an intelligent return
After spending significant funds on a business intelligence solution, business units and IT need to work together to determine exactly what information is required and when they need it in order to avoid the common mistakes made with business intelligence implementation. Organisations should carefully plan their strategy to ensure they get maximum value from BI, otherwise, they’ll have nothing to show for it and won’t be able to demonstrate its value. However, when done correctly, BI can arm organisations with the critical information needed to become more agile and flexible, allowing them to respond faster to changing markets and giving them an edge over the competition.
The User Group is currently involved in the BusinessObjects charter, aimed at increasing engagement and collaboration between SUGEN and SAP to better meet the needs of SAP BusinessObjects customers. This stands to benefit the entire SAP user group community, as new and existing users look towards business intelligence deployments in the future. In the coming months we hope to update members regarding how the charter is progressing, so watch this space.
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