Common Business Intelligence implementation mistakes and how to avoid them

Many businesses of all shapes and sizes are now using Business Intelligence and Data Analytics technologies as integral parts of their operations. This came about in part due to major changes in our macro environment in recent years requiring organisations to seek ever-improving efficiencies in their processes. It was also an expected consequence thanks to the rise of simple, effective and cheap technologies (eg. Qlik Sense, Tableau, and Power BI). Unfortunately, not all businesses have been able to reap the benefits of their efforts in this front. With recent global developments impacting firms even harder, some have even decided to drop their BI projects altogether. So, what exactly are they doing wrong?

Here are 6 common reasons we’ve encountered in over 10 years of accumulated experience helping companies implement internal BI projects.

1. Deploying a system without analyzing their existing infrastructure

It’s important to analyze the existing infrastructure within a business before deploying any business intelligence solution. This ensures that the technology chosen is compatible enough to work with the systems in place. The primary objective of integrating BI into your system is to get valuable insights from one’s data. If existing systems and infrastructure are not well-maintained or upgraded, it is hard to gather healthy data efficiently to produce the real-time insights that contribute to sound decision-making and business growth. Ideally, Business Intelligence tools need to be integrated with the systems being used by marketing, sales, operations, IT and finance. Such a solution will ensure one has an optimized decision support system to depend on.

2. Lack of Executive Support

If your business intelligence project lacks a strategic direction, it will veer off course, leading to a waste of time and money. Equally, without executive engagement and support it will also be difficult for the project to gain the momentum necessary to achieve a return on investment. Before selecting the BI technology, set clear project goals. What exactly are you looking to achieve? What led you to believe you need such a solution? Answering these important questions allows companies to have a clear understanding of what their primary objectives are, and ensures that any future BI project prioritizes the most valuable insights first.

3. Lack of Training

Most of the leading BI tools today, namely Qlik Sense, Tableau and Power BI, have excellent self-service capabilities that allow organisations to democratize their use among their staff. Despite their ease-of-use, companies regularly underestimate the importance of giving their staff the skills required to really extract value out of these technologies. Providing training will allow staff to not only create high-quality dashboards and reports, but also increase the team’s ability to obtain even more value from their data. To tackle this problem, we recommend performing an internal evaluation of your staff’s skillsets and using the knowledge from this to develop a well-rounded training programme for each individual. There are plenty of Training solutions available, both online and offline, however, our personal preference is that it must always be instructor-led and in small groups.

4. Lack of Adoption

Training staff to use these tools is important, but it’s just one side of the coin. Organisations need to invest in change management processes that help push employees towards the BI technologies implemented. In our experience, following the completion of training, staff slowly, but surely start falling back on old habits (Excel anyone?). Old habits die hard, as they say, and employees need to be taught to embrace these new technologies to maximize their value.

5. Lack of a Planning

Business Intelligence dashboards and reports are generally linked to a lot of data points and it’s important to have a strategy on how best to visualize such information correctly. Company dashboards need to be kept clean and simple – this requires planning and communication between the developers and the relevant departments. It is important that the report is easily digestible and tells the story it’s meant to convey. It should invite the data consumer to interact with it and dig deeper into the data. This helps to foster a more data-driven culture within the organization, while also improving the consumer’s ability to use BI technologies. Without this, there won’t be any direction for your business’s future.

6. Lack of Governance

In some cases, when a company first adopts a powerful BI, many departments will seek to leverage the tool at every opportunity. This results in a mess for whoever is managing the project and creates more confusion rather than clarity. Business Intelligence tools can be very effective in the right hands, and one of the most important objective and functions, that of creating a single source of truth, can sometimes be overlooked. It’s important that the Business Intelligence Manager that is appointed to oversee this function is given the authority and support they need to develop a well-planned BI strategy, and to pursue it to completion. Failure to ensure this structure is in place will result in staff wasting a lot of their time creating meaningless reports, duplication of work, and worst of all – stalling the company’s journey towards becoming truly data-driven,

What is your plan for Business Intelligence?

Now more than ever, in today’s economic climate, companies are looking for ways to increase their bottom line, improve efficiency, or perhaps are simply looking to safeguard their future. Business Intelligence tools are now a “must-have” in every company that wants to retain or gain a competitive edge.

Do you have a lot of data, but lack the proper tools or training to analyze it? Are you interested in adopting business intelligence tools for your own business, but lack the expertise required to make it a success? Are you already using BI in your company, but feel that you could be doing more to extract value from your data?

If you feel that any of the above questions is relevant to your organization, book here a free consultation with one of our data experts.

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