Jan 22, 2012

Slow Down for Performance Optimization

In BI if you need speed, you mostly need to slow down. 
In BI there is an inverse relationship to design and deployment and BI performance. The difference is a stakeholder decision of deploying BI projects in the shortest time versus doing it the right way but slower. At the end of the day query speeds are directly proportional to Decision speeds and inversely proportional to data volume, to a very large degree.  The information gap is constant and significant regardless of region, industry, company size or strategic goals. It is ironical that organizations fearful of losing their competitive edge spend more time figuring how they could deploy their BI in the shortest time and in the lowest cost. Only to end up with a bigger mess than when they started. Most of these leaders are powerful people who end up lying to themselves so they once again lower their costs and timelines and find another sucker to find the diamonds in the rough. The path is an endless downward spiral into a dark well.

Paradoxically, all they have to do is try slowing down instead. In our study of 64 companies the companies that undertook executive protocol and a go, go, go attitude to BI initiatives ended with lower success and fell flat into the Gartner prediction of 50% success or lower. Interestingly the companies that ‘slowed down to speed up’ maintained their BI project scores in the upper 80’s and in one case even scored 102%. This is almost 80% to 100% higher than average.
How did they defy the laws of Gartner predictions, by installing scientific principles of BI Standards and processes and doing things slower by planning their alternatives better.  Most BI Stakeholders confuse BI design and development speed with strategic speed,  by viewing BI under the traditional ‘reduce time to deliver value by producing more units’ approach. Unfortunately the two areas are quite different and their process divergent.
In our research highest performing companies aligned their BI strategy to their business goals and commenced with a document ‘rules and regulations’ as their global BI methodology. These companies were more open to co-innovation between business and IT, the exchange of ideas and the creation of Gartner defined COE’s. These companies met and exceeded business expectations constantly.  At all major decision they allowed time to reflect and learn as they viewed alternatives with their strengths and weaknesses.
By contrast performance and financial investments suffered on companies that moved fast on into build phase without reviewing standards, processes and guidelines focused more on time, scope and finances and mostly met all these goals – but failed miserably in performance and meeting business expectations.
Ultimately strategic speed is a function of leadership. Leaders that take protocol decision in areas of low familiarity, i.e. a CFO taking a BI deployment process decision, are followed by PMO’s that are forced to toe the line and a resulting waterfall effect of failure options. Teams that become comfortable with IT and business co-innovation, take time to establish a global methodology and conduct frequent reviews and recommendations, rather than simply plowing ahead full force, are consistently more successful in meeting their business objectives.
This kind of support and assurance must start from the top.

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