Business Intelligence (BI) is not a new idea; many large MNCs and enterprises have been using BI for many years. The only problem is that the practice of BI and the software used has been beyond reach for many SMEs due to cost and complexity. This is changing as more and more companies are offering BI solutions to SMEs. Are you thinking of implementing BI into your organization?
If you are looking into integrating Business Intelligence at your company, no matter what system you choose or the size of the project, there are a number of things you need to be aware of in order to make the implementation successful.
4 Things to Know before You Start
Before you start any BI project, there are 4 key BI implementation areas that you and your company will need to be clear on:
- Data or Information: In most SMEs there is a limited amount of data available, so you need to be sure where all the relevant data is located. This typically includes client and employee information kept on accounting systems, spreadsheets or contact manager databases, sales or business reports, industry and competitor information, and more.
- Technology: A large number of BI programs require technical systems that are stable and have minimal downtime. It’s a good idea to ensure that your systems meet the requirements and are stable. As with any software, be sure to do your homework and pick a system that is reliable and compatible with your business. Don’t just pick the cheapest system – pick the system that best meets your needs.
- Knowledge: Many SMEs have employees that wear more than one hat, and as such may not be experts in any one thing. It’s important that, when implementing BI, you have employees who understand it and the related systems. If you don’t, there are many qualified BI consultants out there you can turn to for help and training.
- Communication: It’s crucial that you have constant communication with the employees involved in the implementation, and that you explain what BI is, the analytics used, how to interpret what the results mean, and the actions to take.
Your Criteria To Success
Once you have picked a good system, there are a number of criteria you should aim for to ensure successful implementation:
- Align Business and Technical: It’s important that the business side of your company knows about the implementation and will actually use it. Both sides need to work together to ensure an aligned team.
- Piece by Piece: It’s a good idea to not implement BI across your whole organization in one go because that involves far too much work and complication. Instead, look at the areas of your organization that could benefit the most from BI and start there. For the majority of organizations, Customer Service and Sales are a good choice.
- Ease of Use: Chances are, your employees do different jobs and won’t concentrate solely on BI. Therefore, you might want to pick or develop a system that is easy to use. As a benchmark, pick a sales or business manager and, if possible, a business analyst, and see how long it takes them to learn the system. The bigger the gap between the learning time of these employees, the harder the system is to use.
- Flexibility: It’s common knowledge that your business is always changing. Therefore, It’s a good idea to ensure that the BI system you choose is flexible and can be quickly and easily adapted to meet changing needs. If you have a rigid system, it will be successful in the short term, but a nightmare or even a failure in the future.
With planning and patience, BI will bring about an improved business and bottom line. If you would like to learn more about BI or would like help implementing it please contact us.
Published on 19th March 2012 by Jeanne DeWitt.