Why Most BI Programs Under-Deliver Value

Why Most BI Programs Under-Deliver Value by Steve Dine.

From the post:

Business intelligence initiatives have been undertaken by organizations across the globe for more than 25 years, yet according to industry experts between 60 and 65 percent of BI projects and programs fail to deliver on the requirements of their customers.

This impact of this failure reaches far beyond the project investment, from unrealized revenue to increased operating costs. While the exact reasons for failure are often debated, most agree that a lack of business involvement, long delivery cycles and poor data quality lead the list. After all this time, why do organizations continue to struggle with delivering successful BI? The answer lies in the fact that they do a poor job at defining value to the customer and how that value will be delivered given the resource constraints and political complexities in nearly all organizations.

BI is widely considered an umbrella term for data integration, data warehousing, performance management, reporting and analytics. For the vast majority of BI projects, the road to value definition starts with a program or project charter, which is a document that defines the high level requirements and capital justification for the endeavor. In most cases, the capital justification centers on cost savings rather than value generation. This is due to the level of effort required to gather and integrate data across disparate source systems and user developed data stores.

As organizations mature, the number of applications that collect and store data increase. These systems usually contain few common unique identifiers to help identify related records and are often referred to as data silos. They also can capture overlapping data attributes for common organizational entities, such as product and customer. In addition, the data models of these systems are usually highly normalized, which can make them challenging to understand and difficult for data extraction. These factors make cost savings, in the form of reduced labor for data collection, easy targets. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t eliminate employees when a BI solution is implemented; they simply work on different, hopefully more value added, activities. From the start, the road to value is based on a flawed assumption and is destined to under deliver on its proposition.

This post merits a close read, several times.

In particular I like the focus on delivery of value to the customer.

Err, that would be the person paying you to do the work.

Steve promises a follow-up on “lean BI” that focuses on delivering more value that it costs to deliver.

I am inherently suspicious of “lean” or “agile” approaches. I sat on a committee that was assured by three programmers they had improved upon IBM’s programming methodology but declined to share the details.

Their requirements document for a content management system, to be constructed on top of subversion, was a paragraph in an email.

Fortunately the committee prevailed upon management to tank the project. The programmers persist, management being unable or unwilling to correct past mistakes.

I am sure there are many agile/lean programming projects that deliver well documented, high quality results.

But I don’t start with the assumption that agile/lean or other methodology projects are well documented.

That is a question of fact. One that can be answered.

Refusal to answer due to time or resource constraints, is a very bad sign.

I first saw this in a top ten tweets list from KDNuggets.

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