Business Intelligence Software: 10 Common Mistakes: Page 2

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6) Going it alone.

Ten years ago it was hard to find a lot of BI expertise in specific markets. Now the maturing of the field and plentiful resources make it a crime for any organization to launch a program without thoroughly vetting the process, project, products and people. TDWI membership should be a pre-requisite before moving ahead.

If you're in a big company, urge the CIO to develop a BI Competency Center. A core group of experts within your organization can become internal consultants to business units. The competency center approach will help avoid a huge number of mistakes and wasted money.

7) Allowing the spreadmart plague to spread.

Eckerson invented the term spreadmart in 2002 as a label for the proliferation of mini-data warehouses and business intelligence systems based on spreadsheets. Typically a department would try to solve a business problem by creating a spreadsheet with lots of macros linked to transaction systems. These spreadmarts were typically undocumented, impossible to audit and extremely fragile. But they're easy to set up and use, thanks to the ubiquity of Excel. "Today, spreadmarts are the bane of IT departments who can’t control their proliferation, and the nemesis of CEOs who can’t gain an accurate view of enterprise activity because of them," notes Eckerson." In many respects, spreadmarts are the corporate equivalent of terrorists—just as soon as you eliminate one, ten more spreadmarts pop up to take its place."

Eckerson offers a number of tips on how to combat the problem on the TDWI Web site.

Essentially, IT has to develop and support a superior solution. And the CFO has to use Sarbanes Oxley as a bulldozer to crush as many spreadmarts as possible. Especially maverick systems that directly feed into the P&L.

8) Inflexible design.

Thanks to globalization, an extremely volatile economy and other factors, building a rigid data warehouse and business intelligence system is a sure fire route to misery.

Your business advisors should be probed for insights about what strategies and tactics could change. They should offer odds or likelihood that key parameters will shift, and then IT should consider which parts of the system are most likely to need updating or revision.

9) Ignoring external data.

The best business intelligence and performance management systems incorporate data from external sources. Weather forecasts are obviously an important factor in determining optimum shipping routes, for example.

Mark Graham Brown, a performance management expert and author, says that external factors such as economic, political, regulatory and consumer trends may need to be considered and incorporated into a BI or performance management system to make it truly effective and useful.

10) Wrong customer data.

If customer satisfaction is a key metric for your organization and the IT department is asked to implement a performance management system to create and track this, ignore urges to just use survey data.

As Brown notes, an annual survey won't be of much help when you need weekly or monthly updates. And few organizations are surveying customers frequently enough to make a meaningful online metric. You need more granularity. He recommends a customer aggravation metric – collect service call or help desk data, and then score the inquiries based on severity.

Sad to say, there are other commonly made mistakes. What do you think are the biggest mistakes you've seen? Too many Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the performance management system? Maybe we can prevent repeating the same mistakes in the next decade of the technology.

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Tags: management, IT, marketing, business intelligence

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