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Business Intelligence Governance


Governance

Governance is a critical concept in facing the challenge of diminishing IT budgets, and every increasing demand for IT capability and services.

The two key challenges of IT or IS departments today are:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Alignment with the business

As most CIO's struggle with the challenge to meet both objectives, QA and Governance can easily be pushed to the background of corporate demands.

In an effort to categorize and then prioritize the requests coming from the business, formal IT Governance processes became more critical.

It was soon discovered that Governance was also very successful at aligning the IT organization to the strategic objectives of the company by forcing discussion among corporate stakeholders to gain agreement as to which projects had the potential for the highest contribution to the company, and were therefore executed first.

 

IT Governance and Business Intelligence

Whilst the IT Governance process works very well for individual projects or initiatives, certain programs, such as Business Intelligence, were more difficult to categorize, as they applied right across the organization.

To help integrate BI into all IT programs, BI Governance became a favored category to aid prioritizing BI requests along different criteria such as:

  • Project ROI
  • Organizational Budget
  • Internal Expertise Available
  • Project Resource Availability
  • IT Infrastructure Capacity
  • Enterprise Strategic Value


BI Governance

BI Governance can be viewed from three perspectives:

  1. Guidelines - for defining the Architecture, Standards and Best Practices to follow in Business Intelligence,
  2. Decision Category - a prioritization mechanism by which projects can be approved, rejected and sequenced based on specific criteria.
  3. Role Definition - for establishing critical interaction and negotiating responsibility between IT and the Business


Benefits of BI Governance

There is still a strong perception that implementing BI Governance is a costly and complex exercise that provides little value.

Yet BI Governance helps:

  1. Bridge that critical link between corporate strategy and strategy implementation. With 70% of strategy requiring some degree of IT initiative, BI governance is an effective mechanism to effect this process.
  2. Align people and resources to a particular project and documenting a project plan to help clarify organizational readiness.
  3. A good BI Governance process will also establish proper Change Management [CM], Quality Assurance [QA] and Training policies that facilitate the user adoption process and promote the overall use of BI. This is an important step in minimizing fear and resistance to new technologies from business users.
  4. Drive infrastructure and technology decisions from both IT and business perspectives. This significantly increases the likelihood of choosing the right vendor/platform that meets the requirements of both the business and IT.
  5. BI Governance is commonly thought of as an IT function. In fact, Business Intelligence is also seen as an IT function. In reality, BI sits firmly between business and IT. For this reason it is a great alignment catalyst between IT and the business.

 

Establishing A BI Governance Structure

The following steps summarise the key steps in establishing a BI Governance team:

  1. Identify an executive sponsor of BI Governance, preferably from the CFO. This give business credibility to the group and confirms budget allocation.
  2. Identify all business stakeholders within the organization -Request one representative from each business area/department - communicate them the benefits that BI governance. Discuss how the BI Governance process can help them a solve technology gaps and issues in their business areas.
  3. Define responsibilities of business resource - these delegates will be responsible for sponsoring particular projects for their home units, championing the benefits of initiatives and juggling the departmental IT budget. The will also be responsible for identifying people in their functional areas to support requirements definition, assist IT staff with the business perspective of tasks such as Data Modeling, Data Integration and act as super-users and acceptance testers for the BI-Front End implementation.
  4. Identify IT stakeholders
  5. Define responsibilities of IT resource
  6. Gain support from IT Architecture and Project Management Offices.
  7. Intiate the BI Governance Group - meet to establish a mission statement and specific strategies/goals and develop a BI Governance Charter.
  8. Establish ongoing meeting schedules and communication plans
  9. Create BI Roadmap - identify all current and planned initiatives - create a BI roadmap, identifying interdependencies, precedents and joint business unit intiatives.
  10. Sign Off - Gain business acceptance and executive approval of the roadmap.

 

Business Role In BI Governance

Too often, business units identify technology requirements to support their capability and enhance their performance, yet are resistant to support IT by providing expert resource to assist in the development and implementation. This is an ongoing frustration by IT, which often leads to engagement of external contractors, and delays the progress of the project.

The roles required by business units for effective BI Governance include:

Present intiatives for approval by the BI Governance Group

Partifipate in all six key stages of development:

  1. Data Modelling - helping the data modeler understand the current business processes and identify issues and future business scenarios. They also own the metadata and object descriptions.
  2. Data Integration - provide knowledge of the data and how it relates to business processes. This helps the data steward to define data loading exception scenarios and approve the recovery strategies proposed by IT.
  3. Data QA - They also have ownership of the Data Quality criteria and policies for the initiative.
  4. Design & Standardisation - They can also define naming standards, folder structures, report organization. They are invaluable in helping establish guidelines to govern the creation of additional end user objects (reports, metrics, etc) which define the user experience.
  5. BI Tool Selection - as a super user they can relate to the usability of BI tools from a business perspective, and help gauge the understanding of implementation partners.
  6. Acceptance Testing - ownership of the user experience.

 

IT Role in BI Governance

Traditionally, IT's role in BI Governance is from the Project Management and technology development perspective.

Oerall, the role of IT in BI Governance is to manage critical decisions such as:

  1. Selecting the proper tools
  2. Defining the BI architecture
  3. Establishing the proper infrastructure
  4. Data Modelling
  5. Data Integration
  6. Implementing the standards as defined by the BI Governance Committee
  7. Training the users
  8. Coordinating support and maintenance across the business areas.

Project Management

Leadership is critical in the success of any project. Not only should the project manager define and plan the project, but also provide thought leadership and a strong methodology to manage the projects.

Data Modeling

Data Modeling is a visible part of the BI Governance model to ensure business users participate in the data modeling sessions to ensure business processes are accurately captured.

Data Integration

Data Integration resource work closely with business the business to ensure the proper IT infrastructure is implemented. Traditionally, IT owned the Tool selection process, however, more and more, this responsibility is resting with the business, facilitated by the Project Manager.

Data Integration also includes the data Integration Architecture and the implementation of data loading and data quality policies.

Enterprise Architect

An Enterprise Architecture representative is an important part of the BI Governance group to help define how the BI architecture will fit within the Enterprise, and how the cost and performance of each BI initiative may impact the cost and performance of other initiatives.

BI Front End Configuration

The BI Front-end work is also a joint effort between business representatives and IT. IT facilitate the selection of the BI tool and are best able to assist the business in indentifying the long term value of the tool in terms of scalability and extensibility.

Training

Training is a key role often hotly negotiated between IT and the Business. Training material takes a significant amount of time to prepare and so is too often done ineffectively, to the peril of the acceptance of the users. A good compromise is for IT and the business to work together to develop training material, with IT training the Trainer, and the Trainer then facilitating the adoption and learning of the application by the business end users.

 

NEXT: Business Intelligence Architecture

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