Measuring success on an engagement typically begins with revisiting the business case.The business case represents one way to measure project success and answer the question, “How did we do?”

 

For your BI project, there are additional, nonfinancial gauges for “How did we do?” that should be monitored and reviewed. Ideally, this should happen throughout the engagement as an ongoing activity.Many times, though, project teams get caught up in the delivery and implementation and only ask, “How did we do?” as a part of project close-out or post-mortems.By this time, it can be too late to perform any meaningful rework, if needed, as the project has already wound down.Monitoring and measuring results as an ongoing activity provides the opportunity to take course-corrective actions before it is too late.Doing so will help to ensure that the project itself accomplishes what it set out to.

 

This is third article in the series entitled “Implementing the Business Intelligence Collaboration: Setup.”Part 1 focused on setup and Part 2 on execution.This article will focus on BI project reporting, metrics and measurement.

 

Reporting lies at the core of measuring the health of a business intelligence (BI) initiative, which should be easy because reporting is at the heart of BI, right? The reality is that BI teams often only analyze the organization’s data and not their own. Without the proper reporting mechanisms in place, it will be hard to know and gauge what’s been accomplished. Ideally, you should have access to several standardized or canned reports as well as the ability to generate ad hoc reports to help ensure you’ve accomplished what you set out to.

 

A few basic, yet critical, analytical reports that should be generated on all BI-C projects are discussed below:

  • Gap analysis - As discussed in Part 2, the discovery phase is the primary data gathering phase of the project. Based on the extensive interviewing process, requirements, features and releases are defined and documented. Gap Analysis reports highlight how well the BI solution meets the business need. All requirements and features should be available and accessible from a central repository from which gap analysis reports can be generated.
  • Requirements gap analysis reporting - Missing requirements are probably one of the most common issues encountered on IT projects. The opposite scenario, implementing more requirements than necessary or planned for (scope creep) is just as detrimental, if not worse. A gap analysis report for requirements can provide the necessary visibility to eliminate the risk associated with both of these scenarios. Metrics that have not been implemented will become visible; undocumented requirements that do not appear in the report but are included in a particular release can be flushed out using this report.
  • Features gap analysis reporting - Feature gap analysis reports slice the data in a different way. This report highlights how well the BI features meet the business need. For instance, phase 1 of your project might implement a basic sales report and graphs that can drill into detailed sales metrics. Feature gap analysis reporting may highlight that this sales report meets fice low-priority business needs whereas an executive scorecard will meet 10 high-priority needs. Reporting on your project metadata in this manner will ensure that you are making the best decision for your business when planning your next BI release.
  • Lifecycle genealogy - The duration of a BI-C project can vary, ranging from just a few weeks for extremely limited scope projects to multiphase engagements that span multiple years.

 

In either instance, a thorough audit trail is critical to ensure accurate coverage, align with stated business needs and prevent scope creep. The lifecycle genealogy report is an analytical and multidimensional report that can be used to provide detail on a BI project’s full lifecycle, from interview to release. A comprehensive genealogy report provides detail on linkages, relationships, priorities and impacts (as gathered and documented in the discovery phase). This report provides traceability by detailing in a backward fashion, from release all the way back to establishing the project’s charter. It can be drilled into and across, charted, graphed and manipulated to provide flexibility in getting at the right project information. 

While these reports are straightforward, many times they are simply not utilized, either due to lack of access to the proper data or poorly organized project data. Establishing a reporting infrastructure to support report generation is essential. A solid project repository provides the necessary foundation to support project reporting needs.

 

Establishing reporting, metrics and measures up front during the planning stages of a BI-C project can really help to drive and shape project releases, as well as ensure alignment with users from the very beginning. When ongoing checkpoints do not occur and expectations are poorly captured and/or managed, business users can be disappointed with results, and project success, as well as business relationships are impacted. How many times have you heard: “IT just doesn’t understand what we need” or “The business isn’t realistic about what IT can accomplish. They think requirements can be implemented over night”? Communicating metrics and benchmarks of success, and frequently disseminating this information in project reports will ensure everyone is on the same page.

 

BI project scorecards and dashboards are a nice way to package report status and provide an at-a-glance look at the state of the project. They provide one-stop shopping for project stakeholders, including project management, project sponsors, senior management, and executives to quickly gauge the health and progress of an initiative. Similar to your BI project, make sure you have a solid project reporting infrastructure, sound reporting requirements and alignment with user expectations before deploying your project dashboard. This will ensure they are meaningful and send the right message to the organization.

 

Establishing reporting, measures and metrics for your BI-C project are key to gauging progress and ultimately project success. Take the time to ensure that project planning and expectations setting for project goals, metrics and measures are established up front. Ensure that regular checkpoints are enabled with business and technology teams and that reporting is in place to monitor progress and catch any gaps during implementation.

 

This series on Implementing the BI-C discussed setup, execution and measurement. In summary, successful BI projects have very specific characteristics and traits that enable their success throughout all project phases. These traits comprise the essence BI-C and, among others, include:

 

  • Senior executive support and sponsorship;
  • Conducting proper, thorough planning and setup activities;
  • Utilizing proven project approaches and methodologies to guide project activities;
  • Having solid, experienced and active project oversight and management;
  • Implementing and utilizing a project repository to store and access project artifacts and data;
  • Sharing of information and data throughout the project in an open, collaborative manner; and
  • Actively monitoring project progress over time to ensure the best chance of success, including activities such as:
      • Developing project plans and actively tracking toward them,
      • Defining and implementing reports (including dashboards and/or scorecards), and
      • Conducting regular checkpoints with key stakeholders to discuss progress and ensure progress aligns with expectations.

There are many software packages and tools on the market today to facilitate information sharing, project repositories, report generation and status tracking for BI engagements. Whether it’s through diligent oversight and tracking or the use of outside software, implementing a BI-C initiative as laid out in this series will surely increase the likelihood of a success.

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