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Posts tagged ‘Agile’

BI Basics Part 6: Why BI?

May 6th, 2013

Seabeck Systems, LLC

Why BI?

Short answer: because you want to understand company performance.

Actionable Information

A BI program may include some reports, but it is not reporting–BI is intelligent information. Manual reporting processes are inefficient for gathering, compiling, and producing actionable information, and can produce inconsistent and often unverifiable information. I.e. if the numbers don’t match among reports or departments, then one, some, or possibly all results are incorrect. (We don’t like numbers that don’t match – we like our data real and verifiable.)

Consistent Dataset

BI has the capacity to deliver company-wide concurrency and integration of measurements. A successful BI program begins with creating a model of existing business data and processes, and understanding what your company wants to measure. Next, you can leverage your BI platform to ensure all departments have a common, consistent, and readily available dataset for queries, reports, and analysis.

In the words of Stephen R. Covey: Begin with the End in Mind. If you’re asking yourself, “Why BI?” consider: “What do I want to measure?”

Got more questions? Try the BI Basics index, or share your questions in the comments.

BI Basics Part 5: How is BI used?

April 22nd, 2013

Seabeck Systems, LLC

How is BI used?

We’ve established that BI is a systematic approach to understanding company performance. A mature BI program generates actionable information that people are equipped to use for daily decision-making. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for maturity to get some benefit from BI.

To implement a successful BI program at your company, your first steps are to invest time and brainpower to define your business and how it works. This detailed process of question and answer can be a challenge, but it’s also a great gift. Only by defining your business processes first can you understand how your business performs, and why changes occur.

This crucial process of business and technical evaluation is what we like to call Phase 0 of the BI program. The results of Phase 0 help clarify what a company wants to measure, and how to measure each element. We use Phase 0 to help our clients survey existing architecture, draw up a model of existing business data and processes, and develop a roadmap of measurable objectives.

The BI roadmap is an incremental plan for long-term BI program development. By incremental, we mean each Phase of the BI program is designed to proceed at a sustainable pace, with short-term gains in functionality. The incremental approach favors flexibility to changing business requirements, and fosters long-term company visibility for the BI program. (Remember, people are essential to BI success.)

Every BI program can be leveraged as soon as launched to broaden knowledge about company operations. As soon as you begin asking how your company operates and why, you’ll gain valuable insight. Like the sages said, “Know thyself.”

Got more questions? Try the BI Basics index, or share your questions in the comments.

BI Basics Part 4: When is BI the right approach?

April 8th, 2013

Seabeck Systems, LLC

When is BI the right approach?

When you monitor your business for changes over time (i.e. trends), how do you determine the cause(s) behind each trend you observe?

Business Intelligence is a systematic approach for analyzing company performance data in real time. BI information helps to establish a baseline of normal operations, so companies can compensate for any operational inconsistencies.

This is essential: once a company defines a baseline for operations, it’s easier to see fluctuations earlier, understand which adjustments are needed, and then measure the effects of each action.

When is the right time for a BI program? When you need a complete picture of company performance to help you understand trends while they occur, you are ready for BI.

Got more questions? Try the BI Basics index, or share your questions in the comments.

BI Basics Part 3: Where is BI successful?

Discussion
Where is BI successful?

The power of BI is that someone actually uses it. No matter how well constructed, your BI program cannot succeed if people do not take advantage of the information that BI yields.

Department Champions
A thriving BI program needs champions: people who can actively promote the program to raise awareness and stir excitement. Your BI champions encourage everyone to learn, participate and make use of BI information for daily decision making. People who participate in the BI program as it evolves provide critical feedback that enhances ongoing BI development, and ensures the relevancy of end results.

Federated BI Team
BI is not the purview of one group. Rather, success is forged by the Federated BI Team, which consists of people from across the organization who understand (are trained in) BI systems and processes. Your Federated BI Team has the capacity to identify knowledge-holders and bring them to the table, break down input and ideas, build user stories, prioritize requirements, and identify the specific objectives required to work toward each goal.

Let’s Recap

A healthy BI program needs champions who can help sustain interest and solicit input. A Federated BI Team ensures engagement and support across the company, including representatives from business and technical groups.

So where is BI successful? Answer: where people actively use BI information to support daily decision making and adjust company performance.

Got more questions? Try the BI Basics index, or share your questions in the comments.

BI Basics Part 2: What is BI?

February 25th, 2013

Seabeck Systems, LLC

What is BI?

Business Intelligence (BI) is a set of systems and processes that people can use to understand and adjust company performance.

These aren’t just a bunch of words. Let’s look closer:

People
When we talk about companies, we’re really talking about people.

Computers aren’t the decision makers. Smart automation cannot replace essential activities implemented by well-informed people. It is the people (not the technologies) at your company who can use information generated by BI to create actionable steps for managing company performance.

Systems
A system is a set of interrelated / interacting elements (processes) working toward a common objective.

For example: a payroll system consists of manual and automated processes (e.g. time tracking, tax reporting and payments) that work together to pay employees correctly on a consistent schedule.

Processes
A process is a set of interrelated / interacting functions (activities) that transform inputs (requirements) into outputs (actionable information).

For example: a monthly payroll process includes calculation activities to transform inputs (e.g. time cards, tax withholding allowances, deductions) into outputs (e.g. paychecks, direct deposits, and pay advice).

Now let’s return to our original question: What is BI?

Answer: Business Intelligence is a set of systems and processes designed to generate timely, accurate, relevant, and actionable information. People use BI information to understand and improve company performance.

See also: “Systems and Processes – Is there a Difference?” (PDF download) by David Hoyle. Chartered Quality Institute (2009).

Got more questions? Try the BI Basics index, or share your questions in the comments.