Business intelligence should be seen as a business initiative and a business ownership venture. It is - and always should be - about making correct business decisions in not only an improved faster and manner, but also to ensure that it adds value to all business processes. Previously, IT departments operated as part of the company, delivering solutions to the business as soon as possible and with user requirements as the key driver. Today, however, IT departments have started to operate like independent companies within a company, ones that want to make as much money as possible, stretch the work out as long as possible and have business pay for extras that have no immediate benefit to the BI initiative. The truth is that IT departments are taking over the BI initiatives, or in some cases, they are hijacking it. Although this may be a harsh statement, the reality is that data warehouse projects are failing because they are not delivering business requirements on time and within budget and are not end-user focused anymore. Some are some articles are available on this subject, and it has always been a problem. Ralph Kimballs article TCO Starts with the End User, has relevant themes: lack of partnership between IT and end users, lack of explicit end-user-focused cognitive and conceptual models, data needed for decisions is delayed and unconformed dimensions. Martin Rennhackkamp, information specialist, Prescient Business Technologies, also highlighted this in an article title Bridging the great divide between business and IT. These are all great articles, but in my opinion, the issue has never been highlighted enough or too strongly expressed. So where to from here?
Understanding the customer, knowing the customer and believing the customer is king is the modern business mantra. This mantra should always be a part of every BI initiative, data warehouse architectural design/methodology, logical and physical data mart designs and extract, transform and load processes to ensure end-user focus. The disconnect between a project's original intent and its final result is mostly a case of incorrect ownership. As such, the proper project owner, steering committee representatives and project management methodologies should assist with understanding of the original intent by the business - as well as the boundaries the initiative will be developed in. While IT normally works within the centralized governance guidance, it should be adaptable to the customers needs and should have different governance guidances for the different business initiatives, (i.e., Application development and BI). As soon as IT starts to overlap governance structures or tries to cross-breed different methodologies, it isn't healthy, irrespective of customers. When it comes to asking the business, notable problems usually start with generating business requirements. Perhaps IT is phrasing the question "What must this solution do for you?" incorrectly, misunderstanding the answer or perhaps not asking the question at all? Sometimes the right questions are asked and understood, but still need to incorporate other requirements as well.
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