How to Implement Lean BI

How to Implement Lean BI by Steve Dine.

A followup to his Why Most BI Programs Under-Deliver Value.

General considerations:

Many people hear the word “Lean” and it conjures up images of featureless tools, limited budgets, reduced development and the elimination of jobs. Dispelling those myths out of the gate is crucial in order to garner support for implementing Lean BI from the organization and the BI team. If team members feel that by becoming lean they are working themselves out of a job then they will not support your efforts. If your customers feel that they will receive less service or be relegated to using suboptimal tools then they may not support your efforts as well.

So, what is Lean BI? Lean BI is about focusing on customer value and generating additional value by accomplishing more with existing resources by eliminating waste….

Some highlights:

  1. Focus on Customer Value

    Value is defined as meeting or exceeding the customer needs at a specific cost at a specific time and, as mentioned in my last article, can only be defined by the customer. Anything that consumes resources that does not deliver customer value is considered waste….

  2. See the Whole Picture

    Learn to see beyond each individual architectural decision, organizational issue or technical problem by considering how they relate in a wider context. When business users make decisions and solve problems, they often only consider the immediate symptom rather than the root cause issue….

  3. Iterate Quickly

    It is often the case that by the time a project is implemented, the requirements have changed and part of what is implemented is not required anymore or is no longer a priority. When features, reports and data elements are implemented that aren’t utilized, it is considered waste….

  4. Reduce Variation

    Variation in BI is caused by a lack of standardization in processes, design, procedures, development and practices. Variation is introduced when work is initiated and implemented both inside and outside of the BI group. It causes waste in a number of ways including the added time to reverse engineer what others have developed, recovering ETL jobs caused by maintenance overlap, the extra time searching for scripts and reports, and the duplication of development caused by two developers working on the same file….

  5. Pursue Perfection

    Perfection is a critical component of Lean BI even though the key to successfully pursuing it is the understanding that you will never get there. The key to pursuing perfection is to focus on continuous improvement in an increment fashion….

Read Steve’s post for more analysis and his suggestions on possible solutions to these issues.

From a topic map perspective:

  1. Focus on Customer Value: A topic map solution can focus on specifics that return ROI to the customer. If you don’t need or want particular forms of inferencing, they can be ignored.
  2. See the Whole Picture: A topic map can capture and preserve relationships between businesses processes. Particularly ones discovered in earlier projects. Enabling teams to make new mistakes, not simply repeat old ones.
  3. Iterate Quickly: With topic maps you aren’t bound to decisions may by projects such as SUMO or Cyc. Your changes and models are just that, yours. You don’t need anyone’s permission to make changes.
  4. Reduce Variation: Some variation can be reduced but other variation, between departments or locations may successfully resist change. Topic maps can document variation and provide mappings to get around resistance to eliminating variation.
  5. Pursue Perfection: Topic maps support incremental change by allowing you to choose how much change you can manage. Not to mention that systems can still appear to other users as though they are unchanged. Unseen change is the most acceptable form of change.

Highly recommend you read both of Steve’s posts.

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