Do your homework before presenting a BI business case

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Excerpt from "Show Me the Money: A DM/BI Business Value Primer", Bob Lambert and Tri Truong, Information Management Special Reports, March 24, 2009

Before starting the Business Intelligence business case, the BI advocate should do the homework required to ensure its success, including these essential steps:

1. Know the organization’s goals and objectives.
2. Identify a BI champion.
3. Identify and work with BI stakeholders.
4. Identify an application with tangible business value.
5. Define and quantify a quick win prototype project.

Know the organization’s goals and objectives. It is human nature for any of us, including executives, to be receptive to help with our own goals and objectives but less receptive to new ideas that aren’t related to our own goals. Furthermore, senior executives facilitate intensive strategic planning processes to set the right corporate goals and objectives. A proposed BI initiative should clearly and tangibly help achieve strategic objectives already in place.

Identify a BI champion. BI is in a unique position within the application stack. Most organizations can operate without a BI strategy. However, most companies would greatly improve their market position with a comprehensive BI solution. The impetus for deploying such a solution needs to come from a leader within the corporation who champions the value that BI brings to the organization as a whole. Often, this champion is someone at the top level of the business chain of command with a solid grasp of the BI’s potential.

Identify and work with BI stakeholders. BI projects should be driven by BI stakeholders, those who will see direct effects (good or bad) from the BI project. Some stakeholders look to benefit from BI-based solutions to concrete problems. Other stakeholders will have to be convinced about the potential value of BI. Both types of stakeholder must be involved in defining and supporting the goals of a BI project.

Identify an application with tangible business value. Again, in order for the BI application to return value, it must focus on achieving business goals. These goals should be measurable so that the value of the BI application can be determined, and the application should contribute to overall organizational strategy.  Scroll down to “Business Value Examples” here for more.

Define and quantify a quick win prototype project. Businesses must quickly see the value that BI brings in order for it to catch fire in the organization. A prototype project is often the best way to showcase BI’s value proposition. These projects should typically produce tangible results in a matter of weeks and target a well-defined business area. The prototype should have a well-defined goal and ROI metric, and produce data or case studies that show progress toward, if not achievement of, that goal.

– Thanks to co-author Tri Truong for assistance with this post.

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