The partner to the data warehouse in most cases is business intelligence. The proper foundation for data storage is critical, but enabling the business to drive value and make good decisions will take your organization to the next level. To achieve this, a business intelligence program has to be put in place. To get started, here are five fundamental principles of an effective business intelligence program.

1. Visible executive support.

Business drives everything. When the primary purpose of a BI program is to enable insight and decision-making in the business, it is imperative that top-level support from your organization exists and is visible. Many organizations have this support but the sponsor does not spend an adequate amount of time evangelizing and demonstrating the capabilities of the BI program.

2. Data must be accurate.

Many BI programs fail because the reports, dashboards or analytics coming from it are inaccurate or incomplete. The remedy to this solution can be found in my previous article, in which I list five fundamentals of data warehouse design. You must have the proper testing and reconciliation processes in place prior to deploying any solution to production. Along with that, it is imperative that you have business user participation.

3. Business user participation is critical.

BI programs are not intended to serve IT. Deploying analytics without business participation is a recipe for disaster. The right metrics and performance indicators, not to mention the desired rendering of data, can only be achieved through collaboration with the business. Additionally, it is crucial that the business participates in the testing effort prior to deployment so that they can become familiar with the look and feel of the solution before it is rolled out. BI programs only survive when adoption continues to grow, and adoption grows only when there is participation.

4. Understand technology and trends.

At its core, business intelligence is about enabling the business. To achieve that goal, you must understand the full capabilities of your in-house technologies and resources. Additionally, you must be aware of current technology trends and product roadmaps. Support and adoption will grow if you are able to articulate the capabilities that you can provide and also highlight the future prospects. This gives your program credibility and creates excitement with the business about future enhancements.

5. Know your organization and industry.

In most cases, you will not be able to deploy BI solutions for every part of the organization. You need to understand which areas are the primary drivers of revenue, cost and innovation. Focusing on these stakeholder areas will allow you, as your roll out various solutions, to create a foundational layer of user adoption, business benefits and continued investment in your BI program.

Remember that business intelligence is a program, not a project. These principles will help you to build your BI program through successful collaboration with the business and visible executive sponsorship.

Steve Chang is a solution architect at Slalom Consulting. This article appeared at Information Management, a SourceMedia publication.

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