September 23, 2010 | Leave a Comment
Previously, I posted on a couple of higher education vendors touting their “out of the box” dashboards. Here’s another example of messaging that should make every BI project lead or CIO cringe. “Data to Dashboards in Minutes” is the byline for the Pentaho Agile BI Tour that started recently. It sounds appealing: a half day workshop to help you “deliver successful BI solutions to users more quickly and at significantly lower cost.”
But what part of the dashboard deployment process are they talking about? I doubt the half day seminar with hands on demo includes the challenging, up front, and most important part of the process. That is, to answer questions surrounding data governance, ownership, quality and integration. I also suspect it sidesteps the contentious debate that occurs during most dashboard design and deployment efforts on what metrics, goals and visual presentation should be made for the various user personas who will access the them. In my experience, every user wants their own view and metric definitions of what matters for their job responsibilities. Dashboards are notoriously difficult to create with the right level of detail and interactivity, except at the very highest levels of summary. And, those are often the least useful for real decision making.
So, I am curious as to how comprehensive the Agile BI Methodology is with respect to the people and process side of the BI equation. Ignoring this key aspect and touting ”dashboards in minutes” or “out of the box” really does a disservice to everyone involved–the end user, IT, professional services, and BI vendor communities because it sets a false expectation of what is possible. It doesn’t tell the whole story of what resources are required to get the organization where it wants to go. That leaves BI professional service companies like ASR having to do more education on the realities that go beyond just the BI technologies. The limiting factor is often the organization’s own ability to deal with the internal transformations needed to understand and manage with data.
That is the big nut to crack.
September 3, 2010 | Leave a Comment
In my previous post Leading for Success with your Business Intelligence Initiative: Part 3, I discussed the value of increasing your understanding of the BI ecosystem and how it can enable the use of self-organizing teams. The next key to improving your BI success is maintaining the commitment of key constituents, improving your institutional communication around the BI initiative and setting the stage for your BI development teams’ success.
The C’s in Success
In my experience, there’s usually a poor communication strategy behind any really good idea that doesn’t quite get off the ground. Too often BI leaders tend to focus too long on the larger business case (ROI, institutional benefits, etc) and fizzle out on building the personal commitment, the “hearts and minds” part. What is required is continuous and focused communication with key constituents before, during and after the launch. In my experience, the success of an institutional wide BI initiative is as dependent on your political success as it is on your technical success.
To keep the institutional BI visibility high and retain the commitment of the key constituents take a cue from the masters: politicians. Political campaign platforms are based on the three C principles: (1) Crisp and Clear; (2) Context Centric; and (3) Consistent and Consistently. Every stump speech, every sound bite, every public conversation and every written message needs to be rigorously “on message,” All the BI sponsors and members of the BI development team need to follow the three C’s principles.
1. Crisp and Clear
How do you describe the BI initiative and what value will the BI initiative have for the person you are talking to? Let’s go back to that tried-and-true technique–the elevator pitch. Can you clearly describe the goal/value of the BI initiative in 30 seconds or less? When you talk to someone about the BI initiative does your description hold that person’s attention? Or do their eyes glaze over or wander across the room?
Being crisp is about informing people about the value, what you plan to accomplish for them, in as few words as possible, and using that same crisp message in written materials.
Take this Test
Find a friend who is the least likely to understand your BI initiative, and test your “message crispness” on them. Tell them what you are doing with BI in two or three sentences. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms that only people in the BI field will understand. Then ask them to repeat what they think you are doing back to you. If they don’t come back with the right answer, the message isn’t crisp and clear.
2. Context Centric for each Stakeholder type
You need to communicate the role they play and the value proposition to each Stakeholder type (executives, BI developers, end-users, etc). You need to inform stakeholders about what you are doing, why you are doing it, their role in the BI initiative and the value it has for them. People need convincing as to why they should spend their time and limited resources with you. Your story should focus on how they benefit from the BI initiative (communicated from a “what’s in it for them?” perspective).
3. Consistent and Consistently
Once you’ve nailed down your crisp message, and you’re telling your story from your stakeholder’s perspective, make sure you tell it consistently in your conversations, e-mails, in print materials, via etc.
Nothing is more disconcerting to stakeholders than hearing one story from one communications channel or individual and then hearing or reading a different version of the story from someone else or someplace else. They don’t know which version to believe. Reestablish who you are and what you are doing with every stakeholder interaction. Reinforce your story as often as possible.
In the next post we’ll explore some additional C’s to you BI development teams’ success.