Slideshow 5 Principles to Simplify Lean BI

  • May 23 2013, 11:50am EDT
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Lean business intelligence means getting the most from your processes and implementations. Emerging tools have made an agile approach easier, but there is plenty of work to be done in terms of refining enterprise BI methods. Here are five best practices to make sure you're on the right path.

1. Reiterate and Review for Customer Value

Value is defined as meeting or exceeding the customer needs at a specific cost at a specific time and can only be defined by the customer. Otherwise, you’re just consuming resources. For a better idea of customer value, analyze a value chain of BI and data prospects. Question all of the steps along this value chain for sources of improvement. Look for short-term improvements via rapid iterations, integrated testing and prototyping; long-term efficiencies include implementation of development standards, common processes and procedures, feedback loops, and business-driven metadata repositories.

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2. Step Back to See the Big Picture

Lean BI must carry a consideration of issues in a wider context. It can be symptomatic of business to take care of the immediate issue rather than the larger, cross-departmental issues. On the technical front, if the same integration job fails time and again, don’t merely restart the job. Look for the root cause, which in this instance could be an upstream loading issue that will only trigger more failures over time.

3. Iterate for Speed and Efficiency

Dine writes: “When the scope is reduced, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to reduce the scope of the entire project, just each iteration. BI teams can work with users to help identify the minimum number of features and capabilities that will meet the initial requirements. Once the first iteration is delivered, the business users will be able to make more precise requests about what additional functions are needed in the next release cycle. This is continued, ultimately culminating in the broader solution.”

4. Variety is Not the Spice of Standardization

Variation in BI leads to cluttered reports, duplicate efforts, unneeded ETL jobs and other problems. Watch out for multiple definitions, application rules or data formats, reports given different tags in the BI portal, or scripts saved in various locations. Make sure to communicate your standards to external consultants at the start of the project, as they may have their own naming conventions and strategies. That said, you can and should adjust standards when new, good ideas come along.

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5. Perfection as an Ideal

While yours systems will never be perfect per se, but incremental improvement is a vital component to getting the most from your business intelligence programs and processes. Central to continual agility and efficiency is arming BI teams with enough time and training long after the initial implementation.