A number of individuals posed the same question to me at recent TDWI and DCI conferences: "How do I know whether my organization is truly realizing the benefits from our investment in business intelligence (BI)?" In most cases, these individuals represent mid-size to large organizations that have created data warehouses and have deployed BI applications throughout their enterprise. Their investments of time, money and human resources have been significant and supported by the management teams of their respective organizations. The BI solutions are considered successful because they are functioning as specified by the business community. Yet, the questions about truly realizing the benefits from their investment persist within their organizations.

To address these questions, conduct a post-implementation assessment - it will identify, quantify and document the impact of the BI solution. Conducting a post-implementation assessment requires interviewing those who are using the BI solution to understand what they are doing differently as a result of the solution. Understanding how they are using the BI solution, and what they had to do to obtain information before the BI solution was made available, enables individuals to identify and understand the BI solution's impact. From my experience, the impact can range from automating and streamlining the process of obtaining and organizing relevant information to educating individuals on the activities of the organization. While quantifying some of the impacts can be accomplished rather easily, those impacts that require liberal assumptions should be described within the post-implementation assessment document in order to provide a comprehensive perspective of the impact of the BI solution.

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