Feb 6, 2010

Is BI success simply a matter of Time

There’s renewed interest if BI success is simply a matter of time based on the old adage ‘time cures all’.

The question: If a BI implementation does not deliver to business expectations what should one do?

We know the first solution is to prevent all projects from going bad but by global statistics that seems easier said than done.

In our current advent of the ‘Information Age’ we are like the early seafarers where more ships sunk due to lack of knowledge or planning. Prior to the 1500’s there were no atlases or global seafaring maps. Seafaring maps were documents created by hand and treasured documents held by captains and the nobility under whose finances the sea captains took to sea. It was the pringin press of the 1500’s that made it possible for captains like Christopher Columbus, and other captains, to try and find their routes to India around the cape of good hope or the planet.

Today a lot of BI investments seem to follow a 50% to 50% probability of reaching their destinations (according to Gartner) and we are not living in the dark ages.

Planning Phase: Returning to our core question the first option is not to fail. The motto of Fail to Plan = Plan to fail seems to be rather redundant as most companies spend considerable time in standard project management phases of (1) Submit a proposal, (2) Initiate a proposal and (3) Plan a proposal. This can take anywhere from a few week to a few month. Conclusion: here is that the planning is defective and from a BVA point of view two vital components are missing (a) Discover current state and (b) define business expectations. These tasks may be done but not adequately to assure BVA success.

Delivery Phase: Once the planning phase is approved, i.e. budget and time get required signatures every task goes into hyper drive and the focus is on meeting deliverables. Conclusion: By the time the project starts the only three components normally controlled are Budget, Time and Deliverables. An extremely important component is once again missing BVA

Testing & Release: During this phase most projects ban any discussion on area other than what is planned to be delivered, getting user signoffs (The legal hook) and delivering in accordance to contracts. Conclusion: Forget BVA now it is time to deliver

Go Live: Celebration time, honeymoon time. The investment has been consumed and due to the User Signoff the project is deemed a success. All parties shake hands and depart company. Conclusion: If not planned well collusion is imminent now you just have to foresee and wait for the impact

12-18 weeks later: 55% companies find they cannot use BW, or companies find that 50% of the delivered content is not useable. The destination has been reached. Either it is a sunny port in Hawaii with all the great places to visit and bask in the sunshine, or a reef of rocks where survival is the imminent thought. Conclusion: A good process should have seen this during the planning phase or soon thereafter

Time has been consumed, along with resources. Now spend is emergency funds and deficit accounting

Facts to remember:
1. Costs to repair, or fix, grow exponentially as we pass each phase gate, i.e. what could be fixed for $100 during planning phase, will cost 400 during Integration testing, and 1600 after UAT and possibly 6400 after go live.
2. Post go-live BVA attainment will cost considerable amounts to fix and time can and may not be the answer. Add to this the cost of business dissatisfaction, meetings, changes in partners, business decision costs, alternative reporting costs (for business must continue), etc
3. Final conclusion Time may be a solution if the next path is correct. If not then it may become a journey from one reef to another.

4. The key lies in two simple facts Business Ownership and accountability and BVA (Business Value Attainment). Find yourself a new captain not necessarily a new team.

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