5 Tips for Self-Service Business Intelligence Success

5 Tips for Self-Service Business Intelligence SuccessMore business are taking on the strategy of using self-service models for business intelligence and as nature would have it, with any new trend or change there will be obstacles and challenges to overcome. Inevitably, there will be business professionals who haven’t used any sophisticated applications/software tools since beginning their careers as associate that will be quite apprehensive adopting the use of a BI tool. Then of course, there will be business professionals who want to get more involved in using the tool allowing them more control over selecting the reporting criteria. However, I’ve certainly seen more of the former than the latter. Self-service for business intelligence will see it’s growing pains forcing business units and IT departments to adapt in order for this transition to go smoothly. After speaking to various managers who have successfully implemented self-service business intelligence into their business processes, here are some common themes that have helped contribute to their success.

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Performance and reward

It’s my belief that how a company rewards an employee for a new responsibility/role is the most important and most overlooked part of successful implementation of a BI self-service model. Employees already have an overflowing plate of responsibilities and it’s important to match up productivity with rewards. In addition, business managers must include performance reviews around self-service BI with clear objectives because it’s too easy to push it off as an “IT responsibility.”

Training & collaboration

Training is offered by most major business intelligence solutions vendors and it’s crucial that business users attend and take away important applicable information. The curriculum must be geared to the non-technical user and broken down into chewable parts. Collaborating between IT professionals and business managers will be extremely important for this project to fly because after all, IT professionals have years of experience overseeing BI technology and can provide business managers with a wealth of knowledge.

Data accessibility & discovery

Many business users don’t have experience with in the depth use of business intelligence tools such as incorporating algorithms, defining business rules, and joining data sets. Without guidance, these activities can be time consuming and challenging for business users so having IT develop a front end that handles the data layer can help mitigate these challenges. Additionally, business users don’t necessarily trust the data fully so the data needs to be managed in such a way to ensure accuracy over time. In addition, the origin of the data collected needs to be communicated to the business user.

Interactivity 

After the data has been prepared, business users need to be able to explore the data in a way that suites their needs and objectives. The interactions with the tool need to be correct so that the data is joined properly, algorithms are applied correctly, and business rules are added. Successful interactions can be challenging because it can be a subjective task that requiring experience and time to achieve the best results. This is why training and collaboration is so important especially as activities become more downstream.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is extremely important to business users who are not particularly savvy with software applications. Choosing tools with drag and drop functionality, intuitive mapping and navigation, and easy to read help sections are imperative. In addition, building your service for ease of use includes getting rid of the red tape/bureaucracy and making the business intelligence as easy as possible to realize the value of.

In conclusion, the self-service business intelligence model is something you may encounter soon if you have not already and it’s going to take some time to adopt. Assigning business users the role of being data champions is key to becoming a data-driven company and it makes a whole lot of sense considering they are responsible for making business strategy decisions and know a lot more about what they are looking for out of data. I hope that you find these 5 tips helpful as you embark toward using a self-service business intelligence model.

Doug Atkinson