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 downtown Calgary office 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.