Mar 30, 2012

Contractual BI Delimmas: Quantity or Quality?

In all my years of deploying one type of Data warehouse or the other this has to be the most difficult scenarios for most BI Stakeholders and contract signatories. If one simply asks the question to an executive they look at you as if you are a worm that has just crawled out from under a stone’ Quality of course’ is the prompt reply.

However, when we look at the global contracts it seems that quantity seems to triumph over quality at a very consistent frequency. The executive delima is 300 reports vs 6 in a 6 month new BI project. Executives seem to prefer the numbers game so for ‘X’ amount of budget the questin becomes whetehrt to [1]  go after high numbers assuming with certainly that there will be more than 6 reports that will meet business needs or, [2]  go for 6 reports with a plan to meet 85% user satisfaction.
While you disagree remember the Gartner reports that over 50% of BI initiatives do not meet business expectations.

From my side I am a believer of both but with an 80:20 rule. 80% of the focus on quality and 20% on quantity. However, from a strategic, budgetary and user experience point of view it is better to deliver 6 reports that meet user expectations in the upper 90 percentile than deliver 300 reports, with 20 reports meeting 30% and 10 reports meeting 50% of user expectations, and 270 reports just plaing the numbers game. This may seem rather absurd however it your ran a Query BVA check the numbers may be closer to this truth that most of us would like to believe. Also,I can tell you straight off the bat that the second scenario will create a fire of dissatisfaction and we all know that fires spread very very fast and are mostly unpredictably wild.

From an executive perspective in particular, your goal (or should I call it , Your Solution), isnt about deploying a technology and then handing it to business that actually footed the bill. It’s all about providing strategic business value to your company and your information consumers. Leaders in management process consistently state that most proactive executives should be able to run their operations with 6 to 8 reports. Lets extend that by a factor of 50% and say 12 reports. So from a Sales point of view 4 informatic dashboards for the executives, 6-8 analytics for management and 8-12 reports for the sales folks should be an excellent starting point. Rather than delivring 300 sales reports and your foot solders findng out there is not a single report they can use for their data to day business transactions.

Can you do this with your current technicratic methodologies – probably not. Can you do it at all – the answer is yes. The solutions is to focus on busness and their needs and make them a partner in all your solutuions, architcture and designs. With a 4-6 hour training all of them can more than control all they need to know. Fine tune the solution with a business focus and then explore what BI success brings to the table.

Does this require major changes – absolutely not. Just a change in your sails and a small realignments of yoru BI project process and its happy sailing thereafter.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

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