How to Plan a Successful Business Intelligence (BI) Project

A business intelligence project, also known as BI, describes the assessment, planning, development, and implementation of business intelligence in an organization. It is a collection of tools and strategies used to analyze business information, derive actionable insights, guide decision making and solve business problems.

Business intelligence technologies include data visualization, data warehouses, data discovery tools, dashboards, cloud data services and ad-hoc Reporting.

There are critical steps that must be taken to plan a successful business intelligence project, such that the end result aligns the expectations of the stakeholders involved towards meeting the goal of the organization.

1 – Start with the stakeholders

It is important to have a detailed understanding of what stakeholders expect from the business intelligent project. This can be achieved with a physical meeting, a video conferencing, or teleconferencing in a worst-case scenario. Data literacy is a key part of this meeting, to ensure everyone is on the same page. A stakeholder meeting should seek to answer the following questions amidst others:

  • What is the kind of data needed?
  • What information is to be obtained from the data?
  • How will key stakeholders make use of this data?
  • What data do you need to transform the decision-making processes?

Make a list of business requirements as you meet with important executives, managers, and business users who will look at the dashboards and use the data daily. You should know specific metrics to be measured to make room for improvement. These conversations will help a BI professional identify the users need as well as compel the users to state the exact information they need to work with.

2 – Identify the important business questions

Once you know what the users expect from the business intelligence project, there are basic business questions to be highlighted. This stage is defined by the organization’s decision-making process and how the quality of these decisions is measured, for instance, client experience is measured with account health. Using the data visualization process, create a flowchart that illustrates the business workflow. You may need multiple schemas and dashboards for this.

To create a business workflow chart, start with high-level KPIs — the ones that that are of greatest concern to stakeholders such as recruitment, leadership development and succession planning. Low level KPIs can be derived from the appraisal of the high-level ones. Start with less than 10 metrics and prioritize information over indicators.

3 – Draft a valid dashboard

The goal is to flesh out a feasible dashboard that states dimensions, facts and filters. An initial draft will enable you to lay out a structure for achieving the deliverables set by the stakeholders. To draft a proper dashboard, you need information about the data type and its source, the means of data collection and the alternatives to be used when the data needed is not readily available.

You can afterwards create a prototype of the widgets and data visualizations for data presentation. A mock-up such as this can be used to obtain early approval and feedback from stakeholders, as well as reduce the possibility and frequency of making adjustments after the dashboard is built. For stakeholders who are laymen in regards to data literacy, you can use simplified data visualization tools to aid comprehension.

Once this is done, you must choose between hosting BI tools in your infrastructure or hosting them in the cloud to simplify their management.