Written by: Tammy Salvo
Welcome to the finale of this three part series! As a brief overview, implementing a BI strategy can be overwhelming and yield a low chance of success if strategic planning is not completed on the front end. With many considerations to evaluate across the organization, this guide will help articulate the need for a corporate BI strategy, assist in the development of a step-by-step plan, and provide guidance to a successful implementation.
With no further ado, let’s move on to the final 5 steps.
- What resources are available?
Take an assessment of what resources are required for this project, both on the business side and within technology. When taking a complete skills inventory, identify any gaps, which may need to be filled through additional external sources. (Note: Identify and plan for any new skillsets that will need to transfer to internal team members or staff post-implementation.) If external sources are leveraged, choose a business partner with a good reputation in your industry. Before finalizing the list, ensure selected team members (both internally and externally) have the bandwidth to participate throughout the entirety of the project and have a solid track record of meeting project deadlines.
- What is the timeline for delivery?
BI initiatives take time. So, don’t expect completion in one week’s timeframe as in Extreme Makeover – Data Edition! The entire scope of work may seem overwhelming; so consider breaking it into smaller more manageable initiatives. This may help the business realize the benefit sooner rather than waiting for completion of the entire project. It also provides a more efficient means by which to manage change requests throughout the life of the project. Review the strategy and correlate the project plan with a timeline of activities. Outline phases such as pre-implementation, preparation, training, configuration, development and testing, launch, and post-launch review and assessment. Specifically note key milestones or decision points. Consider each requirement and estimate the level of effort required to complete it. As you prioritize requirements and phases, condense tasks that can be completed in parallel as well as accurately align those dependent on a predecessor.
- What approach guarantees the highest success rate?
BI implementation touches many areas of an organization depending on the depth and scope of the program. So, one key factor to obtaining a high success rate is to maintain corporate buy-in and enthusiasm throughout the entire process. Consistent communication will serve as an effective mechanism for maintaining high excitement levels among key stakeholders and departments. Share milestone markers as well as challenges. Keep everyone “in the know” of what’s coming next, so they are prepared if and when the next phase affects their workflow or processes.
- What considerations are required for support and training?
Make a list of all staff members requiring training and associate a user level such as administrator, advanced, or basic to each. Develop a training guide for each level and include hands-on exercises. Training often goes beyond point can click, so be sure the trainers or someone in the room has the ability to address business questions. Determine how the training will be delivered. Will a training environment be created or will training be conducted in the live system? Distribute the training schedule and have trainees “register” for the sessions. This provides an easy way to track which team members have/have not completed training. Be sure each trainee is aware of the support process and provide contact information for the support staff. Do not underestimate the need to have the support team in the know and aware of escalation procedures. Schedule a weekly Q&A Session for the first couple weeks after implementation to reel in the influx of support requests. This is also a great way to encourage peer-to-peer training and knowledge sharing.
- How can you best prepare for deployment?
Confirm with the entire team the program is 100% production ready, and execute an internal QA process to ensure all deliverables are fully functioning. Take time to review the plan and ensure every element is not only completed, but has received sign-off and validation. Coordinate the deployment with all team members, business sponsors and key stakeholders. Note: Depending on resource availability, a phased deployment schedule may work best. At this stage, notify the organization with a countdown to deployment.
Congratulations! You have successfully implemented a Bi strategy across your organization! As it’s repetitively proven, one step at a time and clear, concise communication is the best way to tackle any large initiative. In recognition of your hard work and concentrated effort, here is a bonus tip:
Determine the best strategy for managing future upgrades and add-on modules.
This is where a partnership with the provider is best utilized. If part of your solution package, the provider should deliver timely updates as to future version releases and new features or modules. Understand how these upgrades will directly impact the firm and review the findings with your original strategic team. As other systems or sources of information change, determine what (if any) adjustments are required to maintain workflow processes as well as data integrity and accuracy. If it’s decided to upgrade or enhance, follow the same steps as in the original plan to help ensure success once again!
Again, implementing a BI strategy is no small feat! However, by taking the time to do some heavy lifting on the front end, significantly increases the chances of having a successful outcome. While you cannot plan for everything, these steps serve as an outline to initiate a strategy that meets the organization’s needs, wins executive buy-in, and delivers a successful deployment.
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