We've delivered Business Intelligence Projects for clients of all shapes and sizes, and our experience shows that there are some constant elements that need to be in place to ensure success. Here are the most common reasons business intelligence projects fail and how you can ensure success:
1. Lack of Executive Support
No complex project succeeds without consistent guidance and an alignment to an overarching strategy. Many companies seem to forget this when it comes to data analytics projects. They always start with great intentions, but without clear executive support and direction they can soon go off track. This can lead to them delivering analytics which may be interesting, but don’t really add value in driving the business forward and gaining competitive advantage.
Impactful business intelligence revolves around relevant metrics at all levels of an organisation, delivering the right message with the right level of detail to the desired audience. To ensure this is achieved, a golden thread should exist between key business performance indicators shared in the boardroom to information used by operational teams.
2. Lack of Business Support
Engagement is required at all levels of a business because when employees feel they have been part of the solution, uptake of the tool is more successful. Training also has a huge part to play. With the technology available these days BI application can deliver hugely sophisticated analysis, but users have to understand how to drive the tool. So make sure everyone is on board from the beginning, and ensure training and guidance continue well after launching a new dashboard.
3. Gathering Requirements
More than half of projects fail due to poorly defined requirements and lack of user involvement throughout the duration of the project. It's important to clearly define the goals of a dashboard or report :
- What are we designing?
- How frequently will we update the data?
- Does the user need to filter the dashboard?
Basic questions to be sure, but if they are not asked initially, the final product can disappoint everyone. It's vital that end users are involved throughout the project, not just during the requirement gathering and User Acceptance Testing (UAT) stages, but throughout the design process too. The mere process of asking these questions can clarify and lead in new directions; often projects begin as “let’s replicate our old reports” but evolve into something more innovative and useful.
4. Too Many KPIs
Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are essential for tracking a business’s successes and failures, but there is such a thing as too much performance measurement. Think about what makes your business or department successful and look to measure these key success criteria. Overuse of performance indicators in a dashboard or scorecard can confuse rather than help.
5. Project Timeframes
Being able to deliver a minimal viable product to your business in a short timeframe can really increase business and stakeholder engagement. When running waterfall projects and taking a formal approach through requirements capture, functional specification, technical specification and development, timelines can become long and drawn out. Keeping your business engaged through this process can be challenging due to the duration between capturing requirement and delivering something tangible. Taking an Agile approach to BI projects can really help maintain engagement and reacting to business input throughout the full development lifecycle.
6. Lack of Storytelling
BI solutions should focus on business use cases rather than just providing visualisations of data. Don’t create dashboards and KPIs just for the sake of it. Through the journey of the BI solution you should be able to tell a story of performance and indicate where successes and failures exist. A BI application can’t solve your business challenges, but it should give you a very clear idea of where improvements are required.
7. Bad Data
Poor data quality is one of the biggest factors of project failures. Often the BI development team is not responsible for the data they are reporting on. The applications they develop are providing an accurate picture based on the data provided. If senior leaders don’t like or agree with the information they are seeing they will soon lose confidence in the BI solution and blame this as being inaccurate.
BI developers need to work with data owners to ensure data is accurate and can be cleansed as needed. BI solutions are invaluable in highlighting dirty data, so why not use your BI solution to improve your business data and work directly with your data owners to achieve this?
If you need support with a project talk to us about how we can help.