Organizations beginning business intelligence (BI) initiatives often turn to external BI consultants for assistance. It is common for these organizations to include among their objectives self-sufficiency with BI. In other words, they are willing to pay for expert external assistance to get started, but they want - at some point in the future - to be able to design, build, operate and use BI applications on their own, without external assistance. This objective typically is expressed to the external consultant as a request for knowledge transfer to be included in the consulting engagement. My BI consulting firm has helped numerous clients on their journey toward BI self-sufficiency. These clients have achieved varying levels of success, largely due to key decisions they made along the way. This article discusses the elements of BI knowledge transfer that are critical to achieving self-sufficiency.

It would seem obvious that, in order to become self-sufficient in BI, an organization must have a BI team capable of performing those tasks. This internal BI team is the intended recipient of the requested knowledge transfer. The money the organization is spending with the external BI consultant is in part an investment in developing its internal BI team. Sometimes clients forget that there must be internal people - a BI team - to whom they must transfer the knowledge. If an organization uses external assistance primarily because it doesn’t have the staff to do the work, then it probably doesn’t have the staff to receive the BI knowledge transfer from the external consultant.

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