8 Tips for a Successful BI Strategy

There is more to a successful BI strategy than just choosing the right software. BI is essential for growing an organisation and finding a competitive advantage. However, organisations must consider their staff and operations to choose the most appropriate solution for their aims.

By following these eight steps, your organisation can implement a successful strategy that maximises the use of your available data.

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Focus on solving business problems first

When creating your BI strategy, focus on solving a business problem first rather than beginning with building up data. Focus on metrics that resolve an issue and where data is located, instead of finding data first and applying systems on top.

In working in this manner, your team will approach BI solutions with curiosity and a broader mind. They will not look purely for a specific answer within the data but consider different metrics that can indicate how to find your solution.

Define your KPIs

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are measurable numbers that indicate whether a business is meeting its goals. For example, landing page conversion rates are a KPI for an online business to measure sales revenue.

KPIs can also indicate where there is space for improvements and are at the core of a good BI strategy.

Choose the most important KPIs to work with at the beginning of your organisation’s BI strategy. This prevents user confusion over newly-available tools and information. Adding further information once teams are comfortable with the tools then further enhances the data picture.

Furthermore, ensure your KPIs cover various areas of your organisation. Self-service BI’s core principle is making data more accessible to your team without specialist qualifications. Optimise this capability by  including KPIs from across your organisation.

Provide access to all users

Self-service BI provides accessible solutions for your users, helping more employees use data to inform decisions. Organisations that allow employees access to BI tools, rather than reserving them for an IT team, find greater success.

One way to ensure this is to embed your BI tools within your business processes.

Self-service BI tools are more intuitive than traditional BI. Tools such as Sharperlight and Sysynkt are user-friendly options, providing greater control over your operations. These tools can go straight into the hands of your users, who can run the queries which matter to them, rather than running them through someone else.

Another benefit to this is that users receive actionable information in real-time. More meaningful decisions are therefore made, with issues resolved and actions formulated in a more streamlined fashion than an intensive workflow with multiple teams needed to find data.

Upskill your team

Ensure your team are open to the idea of BI tools, as they will be required to use them.

Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant report identified a requirement for ‘data citizens’. Data citizens are employees who are not officially trained in data science through traditional means (such as formal education qualifications). This is due to a lack of data scientists to meet demands for more data-based processes within organisations.

Self-service BI offers a workaround, with employees accessing user-friendly software solutions to inform decisions. These employees need to know the business domain and how to ask questions to extract the right data from datasets. BI solutions aid this.

Working with a BI provider who trains staff is therefore a desirable quality in a partner, ensuring all end-users are confident in how to use these new solutions.

Validate your processes

The quality of BI solutions is far more important than the number of options procured for a team.

When introducing BI tools into an organisation, particularly if they have not been used before, it is better to choose fewer options that you trust rather than a large amount that overwhelms your team.

Including a validation process into your BI strategy allows an organisation to focus on enabling access to all the accurate data needed to answer queries. It also prevents inaccurate and problematic data from entering the system, creating inaccurate solutions and a sense of distrust. Furthermore, these validation processes should be agile for quick responses to new BI functions.

Prioritise your processes

A key element to a successful BI strategy is to anticipate both the expansion and improvement of your software solutions.

An organisation should know what information they hope to garner from using BI tools, and which are the most important so that a priority list is established. This provides a sense of direction for the BI strategy, determining goals to work towards as users learn how to use BI solutions.

Adjust BI tools to reflect any changes in priorities. Staying aware of your organisation’s needs ensures your team can adapt the strategy and provide valuable information for your processes. Adapting the BI tools themselves improves the way a system works, thus expanding the tool to meet demand where necessary.

Empower your team to tell stories with data

Using the reporting and visualisation functions built into BI technologies allows end-users to develop narratives from data. These narratives, or stories, aid understanding of what available data means for an organisation.

Rather than focusing on creating flashy visual reports, creating stories helps users make connections between data that others might not otherwise see. Analysts can therefore move beyond standard KPI measurements to consider outside information.

An example of this is store workers noticing the impact of smaller weather trends on their sales data, thus adding this external element to further analyse trends.

Adjust the BI strategy as necessary

Whilst your team should be able to use the BI tools available to them independently, ensure that IT support is on hand should any issues arise. This can be either a designated in-house IT team or the provider who sells you the software. For example, BDI offers support for our customers to monitor and adjust the use of BI tools as required.

Monitoring BI usage, particularly what data is being used and how, helps refine business processes. New dashboards can be designed to reflect the most relevant information to a team. As a result, their workflow is smooth and convenient. In a large organisation, monitoring this usage can also indicate any teams who are less comfortable with using the tools. Further training or troubleshooting may be required to determine roadblocks with using the software and ensure a confident workforce going forward.

Conclusion

Developing and implementing a BI strategy does not have to be daunting. So long as an organisation plans organises their resources, and review the progress. Following the tips in this article makes the process easier and accessible for an organisation.

BDI offers a variety of services to support your organisation through the process of implementing a BI strategy. Through assessing your business needs, consulting your stakeholders, and training your end-users, BDI helps your organisation to introduce time and cost-saving solutions for your data problems. 

Let’s start the journey of using data intelligently today.

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