It is no secret that the implementation of Business Intelligence class tools is a difficult undertaking.
Our experience shows that there are several factors that, when taken into account, can increase the probability of success and make the implementation successful, and have a measurable impact on the company’s development.
Implementation of Business Intelligence tools – success factors
The first most important thing is to clearly define the objectives of the implementation. A seemingly trivial thing, but if it is omitted, there is usually no vision as to how and by whom the system will be used, what data will be included in it, what processes will be supported (primary and secondary), and what future savings are expected as a result of the system implementation. Yes, savings! When deciding to invest in a BI tool, the company should be aware that in the long run, its implementation will bring tangible financial benefits.
In this perspective, it is also worth noting the need to focus the company’s managers on the implementation goals – they cannot treat it as “the controlling department is implementing something there…”, but they must know what real benefits they can gain thanks to the new tools. Therefore, it is worth involving them already at the project stage.
Another important factor is the connection of the implemented tools with other solutions already functioning in the company. When implementing, for example, a tool supporting budgeting, it is worth paying attention to whether this process is already functioning in the company, and if not, how it will fit into its organizational culture and what changes it will introduce in other processes. It happens that budgeting implementations do not imply, or do it to a limited extent, major changes in the implementation of the assumed objectives. In such a situation, it is important to pay attention to the link between budget implementation and the company’s incentive system. A manager managing a given responsibility center, having a perspective of receiving a bonus for the budget implementation, will be properly oriented towards its implementation. If you omit the motivational aspect, budgeting may become another activity for the manager, which does not contribute anything to his work.
When implementing reporting tools, a key activity is to conduct a specification of the information expectations of future users of the reporting system. Every company, regardless of whether it has a data warehouse or not, collects and then processes certain information for the purpose of making decisions or evaluating the results of actions taken. Often this information is collected independently by different organizational units or managers for their own needs. A disadvantage of such an approach may be the lack of organization of the information and overloading it with excess. In a multi-branch company, a manager from each department may have his or her own reporting system, which may result in a lack of possibility to compare results between different departments.
Therefore, at the first stage of data warehouse implementation, it is necessary to conduct meetings (or preferably workshops) with particularly interested groups of users, i.e. management board, senior and junior managers, controller or analysts, and on their basis to develop a coherent reporting system. Such a system should ensure obtaining information that is consistent, reliable, and equally understood by all users. At this stage, it is also worth focusing not only on the capabilities of the reporting system but also on the sources of information, e.g. how to improve the system of recording costs and revenues in the financial and accounting system.