Launching a new BI (business intelligence) project can feel a lot like starting a new workout regimen: tough, tiring, and a little overwhelming. Getting the right forward momentum is key, but it’s a lot easier when you have a solid plan in place at the outset of your project. Business intelligence requires a combination of “big picture” thinking and attention to detail, along with the right resources – both internal and external – to get the job done. And just like fitness goals, BI projects are never truly over; you have to cultivate, maintain, and perfect them. Here are a few strategies, tips, and methods to help your next BI project launch successfully:
Know Your Endgame
Before your new BI project starts moving, take a moment to understand your endgame. What’s your goal? What do you need to achieve? What measurable data points will define your success? By answering these questions, you’ll have a better understand of your projects scope, requirements, and goals. I always begin with the end in mind.
Generally speaking, it’s better to start small. It’s easier to build larger successes from lesser ones, so don’t stretch yourself too thin at the outset of your program. The ticket to a successful project beginning isn’t jumping in with both feet; it’s having a plan that allows you to carefully put one foot in front of the other as you move toward your larger goals. I always say you have to walk before you run.
Check the Clock Because Timing is Everything
When it comes to launching a BI project, you’ll need to time the outset for success. How do you know the best time to start your project? The short answer is “every BI initiative is different,” but a few factors to consider are:
- Do you need buy-in? From who?
- When is the best time to approach the higher-ups with your plan?
- When will the resources you need be available?
- Do you have priorities on the horizon that might get in the way of your BI plan?
- At what time will your BI project be most beneficial to your organization?
Never Underestimate the Data “Dream Team”
Working with the right partners can make or break your BI initiative. When it comes to getting your program off the ground, you’ll probably need internal and external resources. These include your IT department, business intelligence analysts, your software’s support team, and an onboarding manager. One thing to keep in mind is that your BI project is just that – a business program. Often, it’s easy to perceive BI initiatives as IT projects; in reality, it’s a business project that uses technology.
With a “business first” perspective, you’ll have an easier time keeping your eye on your big picture objectives. Additionally, keeping the business side of your project at the forefront will help you align your initiative with stakeholders, including your boss and corporate strategies. You’ll not only have an easier time getting buy in from the top, but you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions throughout the course of the project with the organization’s best interests in mind.
Take Data Inventory
Before you launch your BI project, get a handle on the information you already have – along with the data you want to gather along the way. This might include access to crucial data sets and historical data. If you need to base a BI decision on historical data, you’ll need to have saved it. If you didn’t, an alternative solution should be found at the outset of your program instead of after it has already gained momentum. In short, it’s easier to put the brakes on an idea that isn’t viable before it’s in motion.
If you don’t have access to the historical data you wish you did, don’t beat yourself up too much. Instead, celebrate that you’ve identified a problem to be solved, and then solve it – start tracking important data and metrics today so you can reap the long-term benefits.
Cross the Finish Line, Then Keep Pushing Forward
Many BI projects fall flat not because they lack momentum in the beginning, but because they burn out bright before they’re finished. Whether it’s a new priority, lack of a clear road map, or any other roadblock, reaching your endgame isn’t easy. The best way to safeguard against an unfinished business intelligence plan is support. Make sure you have the right people and resources to see your strategy to the end. Once you reach your initial, top-level goal, keep going. Your business intelligence project is never truly finished, just like your business is never done evolving. To see success, it will require ongoing maintenance to continue reaping the benefits of the original plan.