By Reed Tyler, Associate Managing Vice President, Business Intelligence at BWF

Imagine driving a car without knowing how fast you’re going or how much gas you have left. Standard dashboards provide a certain level of information, but it often doesn’t extend beyond the basics. Now, picture a more sophisticated approach where your car not only informs you of issues but also offers actionable solutions, like directions to the nearest available service center and the estimated cost of the repair. This is precisely what a well-implemented Business Intelligence (BI) strategy can bring to your business operations.

The disruptive effects of recent events such as increased inflation rates and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic underscore the importance of agility in operations. The rise in inflation has created a cloud of uncertainty, impacting household expenses and introducing financial challenges for numerous families. The preceding emergence of the pandemic amplified this uncertainty, drastically affecting supply chains and consumer behavior. In times of such unpredictability, having access to informative insights for making time-sensitive, data-driven decisions is vital to ensure continuity. Here, a robust BI strategy serves as an indispensable asset. While attractive dashboards may be the face of BI, the true power lies in the foundation of effective data governance, scalability, stakeholder buy-in, and education.

  1. Data Governance

Successful data governance ensures your data are not only standardized and secure but also compliant with relevant data protection laws and regulations. BI solutions feed off effective data governance, and in return, data governance benefits from the structure and processing offered by BI. To build this symbiotic relationship, organizations must foster a culture that respects defined business processes aimed at maintaining structured, secure, and compliant data. Once this culture is in place, measures to continuously monitor standardization, security, and compliance should be instituted.

The Importance of Data Governance in Remote Fundraising Operations by Joelle Clemons and Consider Data Inclusivity by Joelle Clemons and Shannon Cooper are excellent resources for effective data governance strategy.

  1. THINK BIG, Start Small & Stay Focused

Think about the big picture; with terabytes of data from a myriad of sources, BI gives consumers the potential for enterprise-wide insights. It is important when considering a BI solution to identify all available data and the relevancy to the organization’s strategy. Large projects containing multiple sources often require data warehousing to process and create standardized layers from which the BI tool can efficiently pull. Data warehouses remove the burden of mass aggregation from the BI tool, drastically increasing performance.

While it is important to see the end goal, do not start with the entire scope in mind. Start small. Begin with identifying and monitoring the most impactful KPIs. Think of your BI tool as a living document that will evolve as your solution scales.

Stay focused by defining and sticking to a roadmap. While the accessibility of data is exciting, it is crucial to scale according to design. BI development that does not align with policy distracts users and can be harmful to executing the organization’s strategy. Every measurement and every visual matters—as we all know, what gets measured gets done. Poorly designed metrics will produce unintended and often detrimental results.

  1. Create Buy-In

An important strategy to ensure that BI is appropriately utilized is to involve key stakeholders throughout the design and implementation phases. From data-entry specialists to executives, consider forming a committee of team members who will most often be using the BI tools. You will quickly learn how invaluable their institutional knowledge is, establishing the right perspective for BI developers. During initial implementation and training, consider this committee your team of ambassadors, championing the product and lessening intimidation; you will see the utilization of the intended application greatly increase.

  1. Create a Plan to Educate

To ensure users are employing the tools as intended, organizations must provide adequate initial and ongoing training. Many are naturally averse to change, and the best way to combat resistance is to provide as many opportunities as necessary for users to become comfortable with the BI tool. Let BI drive conversation. Encourage users to involve BI in presentations and meetings, in addition to normal day-to-day activities.

Deploying a BI solution can seem daunting. It is easy to lose sight of what is truly important: getting the right insights to the right people at the right time. Keeping this in mind helps with narrowing the scope and accomplishing what is most impactful first. For many organizations, up and running with BI does not entail terabytes of data flowing through an enterprise data warehouse with hundreds of views within the BI tool. It can simply mean one data source that contains the right information to produce actionable insights, populating only a few key dashboards. Successful BI is not more information; it’s the right information.

Curious how we can help?

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