Peter would like to thank Mike Cochrane of Palladium Group for his contribution to this months column.
In June, I introduced a key component for sustainability of information empowerment: the concept of a business intelligence competency center (BICC). I defined the BICC and its purpose, and outlined its functions within an organization. This month, I will discuss specific BICC roles, how a BICC fits into the larger organization and change management considerations for implementation.
BICC Team Member Roles
When establishing the BICC, it is important to consider that it can and will evolve. Most successful BICC organizations are established with part-time roles filled by individuals with other responsibilities. This enables the BICC to exist early in the architectural development cycle, complementing the project team and providing continuity throughout rollout and later phase additions. The BICC will have a core set of roles that require business, analytic and technical expertise, with responsibilities as follows:
- Business intelligence (BI) team leader: Promotes value and usage of BI and analytics. Responsible for overall success of BI-related projects and alignment to organizational goals. Bridges the gap between business and IT organizations. Develops standards and reusable frameworks for BI projects and applications. Often comes from a business background with a strong understanding of how technology solutions can be applied.
- BI architect: Plans overall architecture of BI solutions deployed. Has broad understanding of BI tool capabilities and appropriate architecture and methodology to successfully deploy them. Has strong understanding of data warehousing concepts and how best to organize underlying data structures to support BI. Provides technical leadership to project teams.
- BI business consultant: Understands business processes, underlying business rules and how organizational data supports the business. Works closely with project teams to support business requirements and analysis processes during application development. Has strong background in reporting and analysis, statistics and forecasting within the context of the business.
- Data architect: Plans underlying data architecture and solution to support the BI platform, including performance considerations, storage repository selections, data schemas and subject definitions. Possesses strong data warehousing knowledge and operational system knowledge. Has the ability to oversee conceptual, logical and physical modeling of data architecture and solutions.
- Report architect: Designs interfaces within different tools of BI platform. Sets standards for look and feel associated with BI applications, along with the appropriate tool used to build standard reports, online briefing books, dashboards and ad hoc reporting applications. Works closely with project teams to advise on the design and development of BI applications.
- Report developer or administrator: Develops and maintains new and existing reports within the BI platform. Follows design standards established by the BICC when developing reports. Fields requests from business users and ad hoc requests for reports.
Role of the BICC in the Organization
As project initiatives are defined, the BICC organization will fill both project-specific delivery roles and oversight of project initiatives to reinforce standards for BI projects. The framework in Figure 1 (see PDF below) is an example of a BICC organizational structure and depicts how the BICC interacts with a standard BI project team.
Because the BICC must work across functional areas to ensure business rule consistency, it is recommended that it report to a cross-functional executive. The role of the BICC is similar to that of an office of strategy management (OSM) or internal audit organization in that it should not be unduly influenced by one function. The BICC should also leverage project management office work if one exists. The BICC should take standard company methodologies and adapt them for standardized use in BI implementations. If a data governance organization exists, it should be integrated into the BICC, because the BICC is responsible for data governance.
While organizations typically strive for enterprise-wide systems, size and origin do in fact drive independent business unit systems and IT organizations in some very large companies. In these cases, the business unit should have its own BICC reporting to the business unit leader.
Change Management Considerations
To ensure BICC success, no information-related initiatives can occur outside its scope. Renegade systems or projects that dont conform to the company architecture and standards will reintroduce issues such as inconsistent reporting and must not exist. Best practices to ensure BICC adoption across the enterprise include:
- Sell the BICC as a support organization, not an oversight group; projects should want to be BICC-owned.
- Label projects that fall under the BICCs scope.
- Have a BICC member participate in the project review/capital approval process. This helps identify which projects require BICC participation.
- Require a BICC team member to be present for BICC project status and review meetings.
One final way to ensure adoption is to clearly communicate how to engage the BICC in common project development processes. A best practice is to develop and distribute activity diagrams for common events depicted in Figure 2 (see PDF below).
The keys to success in implementing a BICC are straightforward: establish its foundation early in the information architecture development process, ensure its adoption through good change management and recognize that the BICC, like the information architecture, will evolve.
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