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 – 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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
With our business analytics customers in Calgary, Edmonton, and Western Canada we have noticed the difference in organizations that are really progressive with a great sense of employee morale. There is an innate organizational structure that really does start from the top.
When something goes wrong in a business – whether it’s poor sales results or a failed marketing project or any number of issues that need to be addressed;leaders can ask two questions and these questions will quickly impact the whole organization.
A leader of an organization can ask “What went wrong?” and they will get to the bottom of the issue and determine what went wrong and how to fix it. This is important for ensuring the issue doesn’t happen again. However as a first response to an issue, there is a better question that will change the direction of the organization.
Question # 2
If they choose to ask “Where do we go from here?” then they get immediate responses of ideas, suggestions and plans for how to make things better and still make sure the issue doesn’t reoccur.
The type of question is really important for company culture. Asking the first question results in an organization that is tuned to point fingers to determine where an issue occurred and why. This is an employee group that ends up covering their bases all of the time with responses and ideas that are safe and not progressive. They know that if something does go wrong a full investigation into the problem will occur long before any recovery plan. This may start with one issue but it grows into an organization where employees limit their ideas and actions to only what’s safe.
When people say company culture comes from the top down it really originates from this simple mentality shift. Are the leaders looking for how to fix things or are they looking for what went wrong? If they’re looking for what went wrong, that’s all people will be trying to deliver for the next project or initiative. Who can be blamed? How do I stay safe? But, if things go wrong as they will from time-to-time, and the leader is out there asking Where do we go from here? People will be working hard to correct things and keep going. This is the mentality that quickly filtrates throughout an entire organization.
There are very positive organizations and very negative ones, and ones that went from positive to negative. Why? Because of the direction that the leaders are looking. Empowering employees to look for new ideas, knowing they will be backed up and encouraged to make the best of a situation; they will try harder to bring out the best ideas and really grow an organization.
Be a true leader and start asking “Where do we go from here?”. If you start asking yourself this question every day it will become the kind of habit that will help you to go places and will make you the kind of leader that everyone wants to work for.
Ask us about what other progressive changes can be made in your organization. As we help organizations with their business analytics we have had the honour of seeing what management styles really can make for a successful organization. Send us an email email@example.com or give us a call (587)-885-1090.
You’re not a Data Scientist – You Don’t Need to Be!
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.
You 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. It really can be that easy to make better decisions, quickly, and more accurately… today.