Business intelligence (BI) has transformed the way finance directors and CFOs interpret and use data to their advantage. Robert Lovell explores how to successfully launch a BI solution to help reduce risk and maximise return on investment.
BI isn’t a new trend, but finance department professionals are now demanding an even greater understanding of their business to improve planning, make more informed decisions and help grow their customer base.
FDs want a view of selected KPIs and instant access to information on the whole operation of their business.
Define and prioritise the challenge - When business issues are accurately defined and prioritised it’s simpler to identify what you expect your chosen BI solution to deliver and gives you a starting point for assessing your initial ROI. Understand which goals and KPIs to focus on.
Start small and build on success - It’s best to build momentum and leadership buy-in by choosing a small, discreet yet important business challenge as the focus for your BI project. By taking this approach, you’re more likely to gain initial success, allowing the addition of more strategic elements and complexity in subsequent phases.
Results in action - Consider what the information will be used for, how end-users will interact with BI and how they came to use the resulting insight in their day-to-day activities.
Build a road map - Summarise the business challenges and end-user research, recap existing processes, evaluate project options and risks, analyse total cost of ownership and provide an implementation plan and timeline.
Choose an executive sponsor - Dashboards require the support of at least one senior executive who understands the key business challenges identified, and has the authority to ensure the project has the resources and buy-in required.
Choose the right solution - Compare your key business challenges with the functionality of the different solutions offered. Your chosen solution should probe disparate information across varied systems and deliver this in a consolidated, visual format to enable the easy and fast interpretation and analysis of data.
The most successful BI projects also embrace an iterative delivery methodology. Take BI in bite-size chunks and allow your team to learn on the go and scale.
In addition successful BI projects have clearly defined strategic objectives against which the solution can be measured.