Business Intelligence – approaches to value adding solution

During the past year I have been pulled into the world of Business Intelligence. As I pointed out in a revious email some take a more narrow view of Business Analytics. I on the other hand want to define business intelligence as anything to do with supporting sound decision making.
I have seen many cases where a solution has been selected and the organization is working hard to make their processes fit the solution. I wonder why these are less that optimal investments. The best consultants start with key performance indicators… understanding what is important for the organization. They do this from multiple perspectives… all stake holders and products. The information needed has to come from some where, so let’s find out where that information resides. If the needed information isn’t being produced then the chances are that your business processes are not functioning in the intended direction. Don’t try to automate before you figure out how to produce the information manually. In most cases a BI project flows over into a business process reengineering project.
Mow here is point that I have found out people disagree on. Some say that you should forget what you currently have and map your processes to be what you would expect from the future. I personally see process reengineering as a jurney. Imagine going to the ticket counter and saying where you want to go, but knowing where you are departing from. How would they know what ticket to issue. You always need to map the existing processes through interviewing the people who perform the actual processes. That is your starting point for reengineering and automation.
I recently posted a question in LinkedIn asking how people drive benefits from BI. I had a covert recruiter and a few integrators answer. One said that BI is looking in the back mirror when you should be focused on the horizon. I believe that is in the category of calling Delta airlines that you want to fly to New York and they can pick the departure airport at will.
In any case it’s all about the people using the system. If they are not trained to use it then even the best system will fail. We always forget the human element… departmental not invented here, opposition to change,  inclusion/exclusion, effect of geographic distance, cultures, etc.

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