SEVEN STEPS TO CREATING A POWERFUL BI (Business Intelligence) PLAN – And Avoiding the Deadly Analysis Paralysis

Have you ever suffered from Analysis Paralysis? That lost-in-the-weeds panic you get when you spend so much time overthinking a situation that you’re unable to act on it? A good BI plan provides you and your company with information that will enable it to identify and respond to manifold interests, priorities and future needs; sharpens your understanding of your company’s current effectiveness and value and enables you to be predictive in your thinking. There are seven steps to creating a functional BI plan:

Step 1: Current state analysis
This is an initial, internal assessment of the prevailing processes, technology and people. The primary focus here is to educate yourself about the status of your current intelligence pipeline and its uses and methods, as well as assessing current internal skills and technology.

Stage 2: Future state analysis
What is your vision? If you are in the exploratory stage, ask yourself what you want your future BI environment to look like; what data sources do you need in order to solve important business challenges? How can you most effectively access and consume information?

Stage 3: Transformation roadmap
This is the bridge between your current and future states. When designing the transformation roadmap, you should take into account information needs of users and how users want to receive and consume the information. This is where you begin to prove the value of a BI plan. 

Stage 4: Framework
The framework is the supporting structure that brings together the forces that drive operations in your business: people, processes and technology. The framework must provide a collaborative environment that connects your BI, business processes, collaborative applications and any underlying data stores that already exist. Operational planning involves the process of linking strategic goals and objectives to tactical goals and objectives; it is pertinent at this level of your BI plan. It needs to describe milestones, conditions for success and an operational time period.

Stage 5: Implementation
The execution of the BI plan must be agile and adaptive so that the project implementations can be organized and managed effectively. Prioritization is the key in implementation. You should work with business units and departments to prioritize the iterations according to their business needs, which will lead to a value-based implementation plan. Remember too that the landscape changes constantly and your ability to change direction rapidly is vital. At this stage ask the users, ‘What key performance metric will drive value to you?’ Their answers will direct how you
operationalize the BI Plan.

Stage 6: Adoption
Absolute value can only be achieved when the BI plan is adopted by everyone in the company and it penetrates into the business’s processes, when it is fully operationalized and implemented within the organization. During the adoption stage, commitment is required from all users and providers. Their engagement is key. If the BI plan is set up correctly, this should be easy, as the empowering intelligence they will be receiving will become a fundamental factor in their decision-making.

Stage 7: Tracking
As part of the adoption process, set key performance indicators to measure the usefulness of your BI plan. Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide insight into the critical success factors of the enterprise and help in measuring progress. Your KPIs must be well-defined quantifiable measurements based on pre-established criteria. KPIs should be designed to measure the intelligence performance against the ask—is this information driving value to you (e.g. ‘what I needed to know’ vs. ‘what I did with it’)? KPIs in your BI plan are not performance targets but are a mechanism to assist you in moving the enterprise towards the desired state, and should have you wondering how you ever lived without this intel.

If you want to change the way a company acts, you have to begin with changing how it thinks – and in no area is that more true than in Business Intelligence. It gives you insights, predictive ability and, most importantly, the map you need to find your way out of the weeds of indecision.