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Business intelligence (BI) planning: The complete project guide

Read this chapter excerpt for business intelligence (BI) best practices and tips on successful BI project planning.

Series: Addison-Wesley Information Technology Series; ISBN: 0201784203; Published: 2/27/2003; Copyright 2003; Edition: 1

Business Intelligence Roadmap -- The Complete Project Lifecycle for Decision-Support Applications

Managing the BI project
Business intelligence (BI) projects are not like other projects with a finite and static set of requirements from one business person or one department. Instead, the purpose of an integrated BI decision-support environment is to provide cross-organizational business analysis capabilities to all business people and all departments in the organization. That involves a variety of new tasks, shifted roles and responsibilities, and a more hands-on business intelligence project planning and management approach.

Project management in most organizations is treated as an administrative reporting function. Detailed project planning and hands-on daily project control are often minimized, if not ignored, especially when organizations try to get several BI applications up and running very quickly. In their shortsightedness, organizations forget that extended planning activities often lead to shorter testing and implementation cycles and thus a shorter delivery time—exactly what the business community wants.

No business intelligence project gets off the ground without a few "kinks and bends"; delays are common. For example, some products may not have enough capacity; others may not work well in a distributed environment. Switching vendors and products can prove costly in terms of time and money. Vendors often cannot offer the comprehensive solutions that businesses expect because the vendors are still struggling to integrate all the pieces of their BI products. This leaves integration up to the organizations' information technology (IT) staffs.

Many organizations do not adequately plan for these types of delays and setbacks, nor do they test their business intelligence concepts and strategies adequately. Setbacks are inevitable on a project as resource intensive as a BI application --even under the best of circumstances. Planning for setbacks will help management set realistic rollout dates for the project.

Describing project management activities in the most simplistic terms, the goal is to answer four basic questions.

1. What will be delivered?
2. When will it be done?
3. How much will it cost?
4. Who will do it?


Figure 1

These questions translate, respectively, into the four major project constraints of scope, effort (time), budget, and resources (Figure 1). Before the project manager can create a project plan to address these constraints, he or she must spend some time defining the project to clearly understand the related requirements, risks, constraints, and assumptions.

Defining the BI project

Project planning includes creating a project charter, which defines the project in terms of:

 

  • Goals and objectives
  • Scope (the expected project deliverable)
  • Risks
  • Constraints
  • Assumptions
  • Change-control procedures
  • Issues management procedures

The project charter is the agreement made between the business sponsor and the IT staff for developing the business intelligence application. If any component of the project charter changes, the entire project has to be reevaluated and all project constraints have to be renegotiated.

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