And then there was Ownership

Dec 07, 2010

The change was dramatic and jarring. I couldn't help but notice it immediately. Up until this point in every project conference call or client visit we would hear comments from one particular key stakeholder like: "the reports YOU built" or "YOUR reporting tool" or "YOUR data." Each time I would cringe because the only way a BI initiative can be successful is if there is full engagement and ownership by those who will ultimately be the users and maintainers of the system. Occasionally, I would remind the team that it is THEIR system and THEIR data and we are only here to help and facilitate them reaching the long term goals in their BI Strategy.

And then it happened. We all were working together, as client and consultant team, to address the punch-list of items that needed to be fixed before "turning on the switch" and going live to the broader set of business users. I heard it. The language from this person changed. The ownership suddenly appeared. "I have to research this data anomaly" and "We have to finish the user cheat sheets and handbook" and "I have to test this to be sure the security setup is working correctly."

To be honest, I am not entirely sure what triggered the change. Maybe it was the deadline of this new reporting environment being put out for all to use and either accept or reject. And, naturally, someone deeply involved in that kind of project and commitment ultimately wants their positive imprint on a successful outcome. I know I sure did. I suppose it is like the bird leaving the nest, or the child going off to school on their own for the first time, or maybe a teenager taking the car out for a drive by themselves after getting their full license. Taking ownership or responsibility is perhaps a natural part of the human process of becoming more independent.

I am gratified to see this change and experience the benefits of the client ownership in their evolving BI environment. Although the details of this true story may seem to be unique and even readily identified by those involved, this happens in every engagement. It is not unusual, nor a cause for concern – unless, of course, the ownership never materializes.