Business intelligence strategies are basically blueprints that help you decide how you’ll utilize data within your organization. A strategy is vital because it helps you choose the proper technology and implement the right software platform so you can create a positive return on your investment.
In order to construct a BI strategy, you need to evaluate three questions:
- How are you going to implement your software of choice?
- How are you going to manage the information you want to analyze?
- How are you going to empower your team to make educated, data-driven assessments?
A BI strategy will enable your organization to reap the rewards that come from procuring actionable insights. In creating this plan, you might start leaning on data to access sales performance benchmarks, HR salary forecasts, and supply and demand fluctuations that can impact shipping needs.
When you systematically approach your projects, you’ll soon realize greater success.
Steps to Creating a BI Strategy
Your business intelligence strategy must be aligned with your company’s goals and mission. With BI, data can drive change in your business. The process of creating a BI strategy will place relevant information into the hands of team members so they’re able to make knowledgeable evaluations each day. Below, learn how you can begin this transformation.
1. Evaluate Your Existing Business Intelligence Ecosystem
To know where you’re going, you need to first understand where you already are. Setting a baseline helps to set your organization up for success. In doing so, you need to ensure all departments’ data has a role in the new strategy—even if (like most companies) each team’s data has been siloed and unavailable to other departments.
Bring together all the players of current business intelligence processes, whether they’re truly using analytics right now or not, and answer the following inquiries:
- What is your business intelligence vision, if any?
- Who are your business intelligence players and how are they being coordinated?
- How are you supporting BI users, data management, and data governance?
- What platforms are you currently using and how are they being used?
- Does your architecture align with your corporate strategy?
With answers to these questions in tow, you can perform a SWOT analysis to classify the answers you’ve discovered. This SWOT analysis will assist you in identifying your main assets and issues so you can move on to the next phase.
2. Choose a Sponsor
Your BI strategy should include a variety of stakeholders, but you’ll need a single sponsor to lead the journey into implementation. It’ll probably be tempting to try to get your CIO or CTO on board, but this isn’t always the best approach. Your BI strategy should be sponsored by an member of the leadership team who has the bottom-line responsibility and understands a wide picture of your company’s strategies and goals, understanding how to translate your company’s mission into culture-driven KPIs.
This is why CFOs and CMOs are typically a great fit for this type of endeavor. They’re able to govern implementations with documented business cases and will be responsible for changes in scope. Of course, whoever is chosen as your BI sponsor will still need to be in constant communication with your CIO and/or CTO.
3. Communicate that BI is Not Just a Technology Initiative
Since we’re on the topic of keeping the CIO and CTO looped in, this is a great place for us to emphasize that you need to have the backing of key business divisions from the get-go. IT needs to be involved to certify governance, expertise, data reliability, and the overall implementation go off without a hitch, but each stakeholder and their respective organizational divisions need to be involved throughout the process.
When you involve all of your stakeholders, you’re helping to cover three broad classifications of BI users: strategic, tactical, and operational. Input from all stakeholders will help you customize your BI solutions for various users of your data. When you understand who will use the information and for what purposes, this input will help guide your final decision making.
Your entire organization needs to be willing to dedicate the necessary resources, including staff, IT resources, and funding.
4. Define the Scope of BI
Before you deploy BI software, you need to define what business intelligence means to your company. BI means using data to make business decisions, but you need to understand how that will work in the day-to-day functioning of your business and which departments will use BI going forward.
Decide how you want to integrate BI to support your business goals. After you determine your operational definition of BI, you can then figure out which departments to include first.
- Are you using BI to understand and predict finance performance, HR, supply chain, or inventory changes?
- Will you be analyzing a combination of the above or something else entirely?
The scope of your analysis needs to be clear before you move on to the next steps. Once you’ve defined the scope of your analyses, you’ll need to determine what you want to measure within that data. Determine which metrics and reports your C-Suite will find most valuable, then define reports that deliver key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your overall business objectives so you can begin to measure successes and identify opportunities.
Ask yourself and your leadership team:
- What KPIs indicate success in our industry?
- Should we look at internal metrics, external metrics, or a combination of both?
- Are we using our BI tools optimally? In other words, are you also using it to monitor competitors’ performance, changes in the market, and customer behavior changes?
5. Build Your BI Roadmap
Create a roadmap that documents deliverables at various stages of the implementation within a specified timeline. By the time you arrive at this phase, you should have all the information you need to shape and schedule your roadmap; you just have to insert time frames and deliverables for each task.
Your roadmap can include high-level tasks such as “Find a BI Platform” or be narrowed down to “Identify the top five best vendor matches.” Generally, for strategic roadmaps, high-level overviews work perfectly fine. Be sure to include deliverables and milestones. These help measure the progress of your project and signal transitions into new phases as the implementation moves along.
Learn more in 5 Key Considerations When Implementing a Modern BI.
6. Choose the Right Partner or Tool for Your Business
Since you’ve prepared properly by following steps 1 through 5, you’ll be in a great position to find a tool that’s best suited for your business. During this process, you’ll need to choose from a cloud-based versus onsite vendor. Be sure you look for a solution that allows you to start small but can easily scale as your company’s needs grow. Seek out flexible solutions that address the needs of all your users and take advantage of free trials and promos so you can test drive products before committing to a decision.
A Successful Business Intelligence Strategy: MIBAR and Power BI
At MIBAR, we have worked with Microsoft for decades, and are proud to recommend their products for companies looking to improve their results, gain more insight into data, and make smarter decisions. If you’re looking to provide your non-analyst users with the tools they need to succeed, we recommend Power BI, an affordable and easy to use business intelligence product that can connect hundreds of potential applications.
We’ve helped companies like yours to set up Power BI, integrate it with the applications they currently use, and make decisions with better data. See a couple of our success stories including Wildlife Trading Company, AP&G, and Kayco, read our guide to business intelligence, and contact us for more information.
Additional Business Intelligence Resources
10 Ways Finance Executives Can Use Business Intelligence
How Business Intelligence Can Help Your Company Survive a Recession