Written by Bill Green
According to Gartner’s most recent analysis, North American companies continue to lead the way investing in Big Data strategies of which 47% have taken the plunge.
As we noted in Part 1, in order for law firms to be competitive in this unpredictable economy, they must not only gain deeper insight into their operational performance (past, present, and future), but be able to quickly interpret and execute on the intelligence it provides.
Firms must be able to deliver information on demand to their partnership, but the road to delivering real time, meaningful business performance is not a clear path. Implementing a strategy is not an easy task and one that initially may appear convoluted. However, if it is not approached in the right manner, it can be costly and seen as a failure. To assure success, gaining executive buy-in must be secured on the front end to create a path for a successful implementation.
The first five steps addressed questions of understanding why the firm needs a BI solution, the current state, the desired outcome, and finding the gaps. The next phase is to articulate the focus, identify the correct sponsor, gain executive buy-in, determine the budget, and find the right solution.
- What is the primary objective of the initiative?
Although this phase may seem similar to the “why” in Step 1, by articulating the objective, it will clearly outline the desired outcome for this initiative. Ensuring there is a clear firm understanding will help strengthen executive support and improve decision-making throughout the process.
- Who are the key members of your audience?
Make a list of the people, functions, and departments that will be touched or have influence over the BI strategy. This should not come across as a technology initiative. While the IT team will need to be engaged in order for the project to be successful, it is an enabler to the process. Defining the audience and communicating the objective ensures that the plan not only addresses the needs, but provides value to the intended audience.
- Who is your sponsor and what level of executive buy-in is required?
As one looks back at the audience, begin to think about filling two critical roles from this group: Sponsor, and Executive Buy-In. To fill the project sponsor role, this individual must be in a position to influence executive thinking on the subject as well as provide direction to the project team. Executive buy-in garners the right level of support for the initiative.
- What is the budget?
Develop a budget that wins approval. Some initiatives may be broken into phases, while the total cost should be presented. It is important to calculate the cost for each phase including any additional maintenance or staffing needs. The value to delivering such a program needs to be clearly stated and should address how individual partners as well as the firm will benefit overall. Keep in mind that there will be many other projects contending for funding. If the value of a BI strategy is not clearly stated or its value understood, then other initiatives will likely receive a higher priority/funding. Highlight areas of potential cost savings and operational and performance improvement as well risks of not implementing the strategy. Calculating the ROI can be extremely difficult, but what is the cost of not having a system, which can identify negative trends or performance in real time without human intervention.
- What are the requirements?
Buy vs Build should always be evaluated. When choosing a solution, the choice must meet the current and future needs, but keep in mind no solution will ever deliver 100% of the need and trying to customize or build something that does often will result in higher costs, longer timeline, and frustration. Be clear what is a must have, need, and nice to have. The work done to this point should provide the framework of requirements. Review Steps 1 – 9. Make note of any customized parameters or special requirements.
In Part 3, we will outline vendor selection, how to plan for implementation, training, support and planning for future needs. In the interim, if you would like to view Part 1, you may click Here.
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