Gaining Support for Your BI Project

How to Gain Support for Business Intelligence

How to Gain Support for Business Intelligence

The one thing we notice whenever we’re implementing business intelligence programs with our customers in Calgary, Edmonton, and western Canada is that high level support is crucial for long term success. If you want a business intelligence project to deliver value over the long run and truly achieve the necessary return on investment (ROI) then the first step is to have that executive support. But, if you don’t have it at the moment how do you get it? How do you get the buy-in necessary to allow for a BI program to get started, grow, and show success?

Here are four steps to gain support for a BI project:

1) Show need (increase productivity, decrease sales cycles or production cycles)
2) Demonstrate (potential) value
3) Break out of status-quo (hard to do when everyone is extra busy – they’re covering two jobs… etc.)
4) Gain support.

Show Need
Show need – here’s where you likely don’t need any help. You can already see that it doesn’t make sense to spend a week of full time work each month building the same report that should be automated, or you see the time being wasted in searching for the best options for a customer. You know you could fix issues faster if you just had visibility into when problems were starting to build. You could reduce equipment downtime if you had real access to the sensor information before the equipment fails. You can improve revenue if you knew which customers to focus on. Etcetera, etcetera. There are many ways to gain value from data analysis and a BI program – you can see the problems every day. Start collecting these issues and documenting the details. This will be key to showing how much value you can gain by solving these problems. If that one person is spending 12 weeks in a year gathering the information for the one report that they put together manually each month you can show a dollar amount that will contribute to the return on the investment that we’ll discuss next.

Demonstrate Value
Demonstrate the potential value. Here is where you often need the results to prove that it’s worth investing in, but there are ways you can demonstrate the value of a BI project without putting all your budget up front. Watson Analytics is a great tool that is available with a free trial that allows you to upload your own data or a sample set and immediately see reports and gain insights without doing extensive preparation work. We’ve also done small proof of concepts for customers to show that it is possible to pull together the information needed to address the issues identified. This can be a simple demonstration of tools using a sample of your data or a small project taking 30-60 days to take real data and show real value with business intelligence tools. The type of data may predicate the method for demonstrating value but there are options that we’d be happy to discuss if this isn’t straightforward for you.

Breaking out of Status Quo
We see it every day – and completely understand it. You’re so busy doing your job that you don’t have time to take a step back and see if there is a better way. This isn’t just you – this is everyone in every organization. It’s an endless loop of trying to get everything done before the day is over and respond to the endless emails in your inbox. This is when it is critical to stop and spend five minutes asking if there is a better way. Schedule in this time either at the end of the day so you can start fresh the next day on a more productive foot or first thing in the morning before everyone is dropping in or sending emails that you have to respond to immediately. My favorite is the last five minutes of the day. Here’s where it’s important to take a moment and see what you can do the next day to be more productive but also to review those issues that you know can be dealt with in a better way. This is where you’ll gain clarity on the items from step # 1. Taking the time to see how you can build a more productive process, identify roadblocks, highlight areas of waste, and other processes for improvement. Recognizing the issue really is the first step in making real improvements. This is the first step for you to break out of the heads down, work hard, but running on the treadmill feeling. Change begins with you – is a new-age, feel good slogan, but is really true in that once you start making progress on these areas for improvement others will notice and jump on board.

Gain Support
Once you have made progress in the previous steps it becomes much easier to gain support with others within the organization. Take the time to show the documented need for improvements and to demonstrate the results of the trial programs or proof of concepts. Building support with other co-workers is one step in the right direction, showing the potential dollar value improvement is another step in the right direction. Executive level support is gained with both a dollar amount of projected return on investment but also a team of people with confidence in a new project. Building the right support from the start makes such a difference, not just in getting the initial budget approved but more importantly in getting the right system delivered to show a true Return on Investment throughout the life of the project. Developing the excitement and the vision for improvements is worth the effort once such a project kicks off.

We’re always happy to set up a conversation and discuss these points: helping with examples to show the value, realizing the need and potential gains and talking through how we’ve seen support grow. We can also discuss the overall vision with examples of how value has been delivered with many business intelligence projects. Send us an email at info@bowriversolutions.com or call us at  (587)-885-1090  for further information. We’re happy to meet with you at our Calgary office at 264 Midpark Way SE. or at your location in Calgary or western Canada.

If you’ve successfully gained enterprise support for your Business Intelligence project let us know if we’ve missed anything in the above steps. We’re always happy to hear about your experiences.

Improve Your Corporate Sales Efforts

Sales Intelligence

What keeps most of us up at night is not knowing how to connect the dots and make our business run more cost-efficiently. Add the occasional missed sales opportunity and it’s time to reach out and consider a new form of business intelligence. Our Business Intelligence customers in Calgary, Edmonton, BC, and Saskatchewan have been able to improve their Sales Intelligence – on the road.

Sales people are often in the field meeting with customers and have to recall their sales history from memory. This results in lost opportunities from not knowing what products the customer has bought before and what they might be interested in next. Providing up to date mobile reporting solutions for your sales team will enable them to check the customer sales history and know what products to recommend or even to have the flexibility to discount the current order based on past volumes. Cognos Mobile Reporting can provide great insight for your sales team and result in increased revenues.

Cognos Mobile

Using a mobile device such as an iPad or even a smart phone it is possible to get an interactive report that will help that sales person to provide the best advice to your customers – based on the customer’s individual buying practices. Maybe they need some parts for maintenance that should be coming up in the next couple of months based on their recent purchases – or maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Having the information at their fingertips will help your sales people be successful.

Inventory and Sales History

We have been using IBM Cognos Analytics to pull together sales history and inventory into an easy to use dashboard that can be accessed through a smart device using Cognos Mobile. This has helped our customers gain insight and not have to rely on old information when helping their own customers. Find out in our next post how we can take this one step further using Cognos SPSS and predictive analytics, or Watson Analytics for an automated predictive analytics solution!

 

Ask us about how to improve your Sales Intelligence with Business Intelligence and Cognos Mobile Reports, we can help you get information at your fingertips. Give us a call  (587)-885-1090 or send us an email info@bowriversolutions.com and we can set up a meeting to discuss. We can meet locally in our Calgary office at 264 Midpark Way SE, in your office or via a conference call.

Dashboard

Does Agile Work for Data Warehousing?

Agile Data Warehouse / Agile Business Intelligence

Watson Analytics

At Bow River Solutions we have used agile methodologies for many of our business analytics customers in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon and across Western Canada. We have successfully delivered data warehouses and business intelligence systems using agile project management and have been witness to a variety of implementations. The big key for successfully delivering projects using agile is in the full team involvement, specifically having active stakeholders.

Rough Start

When Agile methodologies first started being applied to data warehousing and business intelligence it was a bit of a piecemeal approach of trying to make a system designed for programming fit for IT projects that typically spanned the better part of a year or multiple years. It has been worth the effort to make it work but it definitely was not a perfect fit initially.

Biggest Roadblock

The biggest holdup in trying to make Agile fit with data warehousing was in being able to show something of value in a short period of time like a typical 2 week iteration. This required a different vision of what was of value – where sometimes a new table was of value and had to be displayed during an iteration. But also this required a different approach to the whole project where reporting was not tacked on the end but added in right from the start so stakeholders could see the end result right from the beginning – even if that iteration simply delivered one dimension into the data warehouse and right through to the reporting interface for stakeholders to see, touch and feel.

Biggest Failure

Delivering value in a short iteration was probably the biggest holdup to agile methodologies but the biggest failure was in lack of stakeholder involvement. We have had projects that have tried to go with an agile approach and did succeed in the short iterations. These projects succeeded in tracking their overall progress and could quantitatively show the success of the approach. Problem was they did this all without a highly involved stakeholder. These projects can still succeed but the overall team moral tends to be low. There’s that feeling of “it doesn’t really matter”. When an involved stakeholder is present at scrum meetings and is actively waiting for the incremental deliverable at the end of the iteration there is an excitement that really can’t be built in any other way. This is when the real success of agile data warehousing and business intelligence can be seen and felt and everyone has a vested interest in the project success.

Agile Success

Agile methodologies have brought significant value to big data warehouse and business intelligence projects – changing the delivery significantly, and for the better. The key is to have those active stakeholders available from the start and throughout the project to achieve real success.

Ask us about what we like best about agile projects and how we can help you achieve data warehousing and business intelligence success. Give us a call  (587)-885-1090 or send us an email info@bowriversolutions.com and we can set up a meeting to review to discuss. We can meet locally in our Calgary office at 264 Midpark Way SE, in your office or via a conference call.

Data Scientist Data Analyst

So You’re Not a Data Scientist… So What!

You’re not a Data Scientist – You Don’t Need to Be!IBM Cognos Report

So you’re not a data scientist but you need more information to do your job. We can help. We have helped many customers just like you in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Saskatoon and Regina. Customers that have needed access to information and fast, needed to write a report without going to IT, or needed to make critical business decisions with up to date and accurate information. Even customers that had an idea to improve company performance but needed to show the numbers to prove it. This is what we live and breath…. bringing data together to show real answers, timely, and accurately.

IBM Cognos Analytics

We use IBM Cognos BI to set up systems for user self service. You no longer need to be a data scientist or an IT guru to get the answers you need. With IBM Cognos you can create your own report and have the answers at your fingertips.

DashboardYou can also start with a dashboard to see your department and then drill into more detail. This helps you answer the questions you didn’t know to ask. Why is this area outperforming the other areas? Why is this manager underperforming? Then you can get to how you can help all areas increase their performance.

If you know the data is available and you want access at your fingertips we can help. The original Business Intelligence offerings were great options that allowed for clicking and drilling down to discover more detailed information. These quickly hit limits with data volumes, performance, and availability. Years of waiting to provide easier access to business users and true self-service capabilities has paid off. There are options now that we can set up systems and have business users accessing self service reporting options within weeks of starting the project. This enables users to get answers without needing an IT background and without being a data scientist. You can now do so much more than VLookups in Excel. You can drag and drop and create your own report within minutes and re-run it in seconds or schedule it to be delivered to your inbox on a schedule that works for you. These options are so easy now we hardly think to celebrate them. But, if you’re still having to call over to the local expert to run a report for you, or you’re re-creating the same report each month, or worse you can’t get the answers you need… this can change and it doesn’t take a University degree to change it.

IBM Watson Analytics

Even better than this self service report writing capability is the cognitive analysis available now through IBM Watson Analytics. This takes natural language questions and automatically responds with data displayed suited to the question asked. This is not just a step ahead of easy self-service acces – this is a leap and bound ahead. Simply entering “tell me what my department looks like” results in several graphical displays with different ways of looking at departments. If you like what you see you can see more of the same or click to filter the display in more detail. All of this without extensive setup times or expensive software costs. This really is Advanced Analytics made Easy.

Watson Analytics

 

Watson Analytics

 

Visit: IBM Watson Analytics – Take a look and then call us today.

Find out how to use IBM Watson Analytics and see how easy it is to do your job and use Advanced Analytics without being a data scientist. Call us for a demo  (587)-885-1090 or email us at info@bowriversolutions.com. It really can be that easy to make better decisions, quickly, and more accurately… today.

 

 

Saving Time

Saving You Time

Saving Time

 

Save Time!

For over ten years we have been helping our customers in Calgary, Saskatoon, Victoria and Edmonton save time in their daily work lives. No this isn’t a get organized quick scheme; although I think we would all love if there was a magic formula for saving time and getting more things done each day, this isn’t that magic fix! Instead this is the reality of finding ways to get the information you need to do your job – faster, easier, and more accurately.

Success

We often start working with our customers and hear statements like “this report used to take me a week to compile, now it’s available at the click of a button” or “my boss just came into my office and asked for the numbers on x location – I was able to pull this up in less than twenty minutes, he didn’t even leave my office before he had an answer, that used to take days to answer”. Or another favorite is when we are first introduced to a customer and they complain of a report that takes hours to run… when even 15 minutes to run the same report would be painful. When we show them how they can get the same information in seconds they are thrilled.

Efficiency

Business Analytics. Saving you time!

Self Service Data – Information at Your Fingertips

We have used IBM Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) to pull together information in a format that makes self-service reporting and drillable dashboards a reality. IBM Cognos Workspace Advanced has been a great tool to allow users to access their data in a self-service manner; building and running their own reports. Often within weeks we can have systems in place (and growing) so business users can write their own reports and find the information that they need. We have spent years building data warehouses, reports, and dashboards for our Business Analytics customers. We are as thrilled as our customers when we hear how the systems we have set up are saving them time.

We use IBM Cognos Framework Manager to build a framework of the company data that is easy to use for business users and pulls everything into one place for greater productivity. Once the system is built then we train users and help them to make the most of the system. We will often write reports as well using IBM Cognos Report Studio to allow for accurate, pixel perfect reports that can be run quickly by end users. The combination of pre-built reports with self-service access saves our customers time and allows them easy access to information they need. No longer are they trying to re-format their own report each month in Excel, or requesting a data set to be updated so they can manipulate it into another report. Self service access to save them time.

Are you wasting time waiting for information? Give us a call at  (587)-885-1090 or email us at info@bowriversolutions.com Let’s talk. We really can find ways to save you time and make your work day more productive!

Access Manager to Active Directory

Ask us how we’re helping our customers move to Active Directory security from Access Manager for their Cognos Business Analytics environment. It can be that easy.

 

 

Give us a call at  (587)-885-1090 or email at info@bowriversolutions.com