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Head of BI Job Description


I get many requests from Forrester clients to describe job requirements for a head of BI team, department, solutions center, etc. While Forrester does not have a formal description of such requirements, if I map such requirements to all BI best practices that I write about, here’s what I come up with:

  • Champion and rally the organization around BI. Educate senior non-IT executives on the value of BI: without measurement, there’s no management. Be able to argue that business, not IT, should own BI. 
  • Build and support BI business cases (BI ROI) 
  • Understand Key Performance Measures and Indicators that drive company measurement, reporting and analytics across functions like 

    • Sales  
    • Marketing  
    • Customer Service  
    • Finance  
    • Operations/Logistics  
    • HR  
    • IT/Systems  
    • Compliance and Risk Management  

  • Understand how these metrics and measures align and track against overall business strategies, goals and objectives. 
  • Be proficient in all aspects of BI and Information Management processes, technologies and architectures such as 

    • BI delivery mechanisms: portals, thin/thick clients, email/mobile phone alerts, etc  
    • BI tools such as report builders, ad-hoc queries, OLAP, dashboards, BAM (business activity monitoring), data mining and predictive modelling  
    • Dimensional data modeling principles (star and snowflake schemas, denormalized data structures, slowly changing dimensions, etc) necessary to support  
    • Physical data architecture options such as enterprise data warehouse, data federation, hub & spoke architectures, independent data marts  
    • Data integration tools and techniques such as ETL (Extract Transform Load), CDC (Change Data Capture)  
    • Relevant related areas such as data quality, master data management, metadata management, collaboration and business process management  

  • Ability to attract, hire, retain and motivate top BI talent: business analysts and technologists 
  • Experience in working with BI hardware, software and services vendors. Ability to negotiate and structure contracts favorable to the organization
These are all obviously in addition to the standard senior manager qualifications such as communication, presentation, management, leadership, organizational and other relevant skills.

Did I miss anything? I am really interested in your feedback, comments and suggestions.

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Comments (8)
Boris - this ia a good list, but I do have one concern over the issue of who owns BI. While I don't diagree that BI should be owned by the business line rather than IT,it's the way a statement like this ends up being interpreted. The rest of list goes on to list a multitude of technical competencies, which make it clear, a lot of BI IT specific knowledge is needed.

Too often, I have seen BI sales presentations that promise to free the business from the shackles of IT..... Free the information, let everyone query everything!!! The problem is, too many business people believe these kinds of presentations, without any understanding of what's required to build and support a business user friendly BI system.

We both know that isn't reality. Complex systems require a lot of IT infrastrucure, and a lot of knowledgeable BI analysts to create the "so easy a 5 year old could do it" BI system.

So I would prefer to see a BI leader advocate for an active "partnership" between the business and IT areas, which really is how IT should be perceived for all projects any way, isn't it?


Posted by John S | Wednesday, September 09 2009 at 11:42AM ET
I agree with John's comments and would like to add another. The Leader of BI needs to have the business savvy to understand what components of BI that are best suited for the specific business needs of the company (and business functions) he/she is serving. Business Intelligence must be a busness enabler, not the latet technology plaform so partnership with thebusiness is critical.

One other item - if the data foundation (models, master data, ETL) is not solid, there will not be a successful BI solution. The Leader of BI must be able to lead with operational excellence in order to have a seat at the business table. If he/she relies on a separate team for data warehousing, then there must be a strong partnershp there as well.

Posted by David J | Wednesday, September 09 2009 at 1:00PM ET
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