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BI Software Implementation

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If you have selected and purchased the correct BI system, then it's time for implementation. This starts with the installation of the required BI software on your IT network. But a BI software implementation is more than just a technical installation. In the end it's all that's needed to use the system as you wish. The implementation also has organizational aspects. Employees who have to work with new BI software must receive training.

The necessary business processes must also be adjusted. A failed BI implementation or a difficult implementation is usually poorly prepared. That's why the IT information center in its white papers, information packages and books not only focuses on the selection of the right business intelligence system, but also on the implementation of BI, both technically and organizationally.

Why do BI software implementations go wrong?

Companies that see the usefulness of business intelligence sometimes invest in knowledge about it for years on end. Yet many companies have difficulty in successfully implementing BI in all its facets. For example, they find it difficult to fully involve staff in a BI implementation, or make the mistake of thinking that BI software isn't much more than an advanced version of Excel. A small mistake is sometimes enough to make a BI program fail completely. The non-technical aspects of the story, such as data quality, financing and litigation, are particularly risky. IT research agency Gartner listed no fewer than eight common pitfalls when implementing a BI system. Below a short summary:

1. Focus on company data

A common error is that companies with BI implementation think too much "technically" and only think from the "data analysis" section. Sometimes even the number of employees involved in the construction of a data warehouse - a crucial part of a BI implementation - is greater than the number of colleagues who will actually use such a data center. A project team that implements a successful BI implementation must, in addition to technicians, also consist of members who feel the more business-oriented side of the implementation. Experts advise a 'competence center' that BI can implement throughout the entire company. Business, technical and communication skills are represented in such a steering group, all of which are necessary for successful BI transit.

2. 'Excel culture'

Another problem is that companies are stuck in a kind of 'Excel culture'. Employees are used to working with data from the internal systems of their own department. Such data is contained in spreadsheets and is used for its own purposes, without sharing information with other departments in an organization. The result is that different 'truths' arise in a company. This makes it unclear how a company is doing, and it causes problems with the protection of often poorly managed data that's stored 'locally' with individual employees.

3. Quality of data

Another problem: the quality of data is insufficient. BI software can link and analyze data in all sorts of ways, but if the data itself isn't good, it yields little return. In practice, employees appear to make little use of BI applications if the data with which the software works is incorrect, incomplete, irrelevant or even controversial. The solution can be that a BI system automatically checks new data and feeds wrong data from a data warehouse.

4. BI from a regular supplier?

Many companies choose to purchase a BI platform from a supplier who has previously implemented (other) applications in the relevant organization.

This is called 'one stop shopping' in professional terms. The idea is that something like this reduces the total cost of ownership, but that's not always the case. Sometimes a BI package from another supplier fits in better with the wishes and requirements of an organization than the solution from a known party. The tip is therefore that an IT decision maker isn't blinded by the BI products of a software supplier that has been purchased for some time. Opting for the solution of a 'trusted' party for fear of integration problems isn't always smart. According to researchers, there are enough examples of successful BI implementations by 'third parties'.

5. Anxiety of change

A new and modern BI system brings the necessary benefits, but always one disadvantage: the company must break with trusted processes. Companies and specially individual employees are often afraid of change. Companies prefer to stick to the analyzes that they have been carrying out for many years. According to experts, it's therefore important that a lot is evaluated after a BI implementation. Only after a year do many users see the benefits of BI software and are improvements visible in business processes. This is because employees have to get used to new software and methods. It takes time.

6. Outsourcing?

Managers are usually aware of problems that may arise during the implementation of a BI system. To avoid problems, it's often decided to outsource the entire assignment to external parties. There is a risk that a system that's not very flexible and simply poorly designed will be created because too little account is taken of the specific circumstances of the relevant business operations. There is no customization. The advice is that outsourcing at most offers no relief as long as there are no core activities. For example, only outsource if reinforcement is needed.

7. Concise definitions

Business intelligence software has one important goal: a good view of everything that concerns an organization and what is important for business operations. For this it's necessary that there are comprehensive definitions within an organization of terms such as 'turnover' and 'profit'. There are companies that build BI applications based on unequivocal definitions, and that causes problems. A company must start from standardized basic definitions and performance indicators. Only if there are any, can a successful BI implementation start.

8. Strategy

It's also important that the BI strategy is established. A lack of strategy or a strategy that's insufficiently elaborated is one of the most common pitfalls in a BI implementation. According to IT market researcher Gartner, an organization must set up a team that records the strategy in a central document and ensures that it's adhered to.

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