Blog | Apr 26, 2012

So you want to implement Business Intelligence “Best Practice?”

Bob Gray, TriCore SolutionsSince 2007, Business Intelligence has gained significantly more traction than it had in years prior, largely due to technology advances, vendor consolidation, better marketing and the economic collapse.   Particularly as companies started noticing the economic trouble on the horizon, a dramatic change happened:  executives who previously had been content to consider BI solutions without any sense of urgency began to demand a solution to the age old problem of getting timely, valuable information from the systems that ran their business. 

The accelerated need to make faster “Life or Death” business decisions drove BI to the forefront of many company’s priority lists.  With executives now demanding BI, many IT organizations found themselves facing unfamiliar technology territory, with a lot of pressure from above.  Some IT organizations formed and staffed new BI departments, some tried to leverage existing resources, and some outsourced it completely.  Very often, consulting companies like TriCore were engaged to provide support and guidance.  The worst of the economic risks appear behind us, but the experience has reinforced demand for BI in almost every surviving company.

As a consultant, the single biggest question (or reference) I have heard in the last few years relates to “Best Practice.”  In addition to providing services, we are asked to provide guidance and assist with strategy development, so “Best Practice” is essentially the core of our business.  Prior to Business Intelligence consulting, I was in IT leadership roles for 8 years, so use of the term is not new to me.  What is new, however, is the disturbing way I have noticed the term being used.  Rather than “Best Practice” being a guide to strategy and process development, it is becoming a defensive term to hide behind, or a means of blind, shortcut decision making. 

Every company is unique by virtue of its line of business, market, size, wealth, culture, political structure, geographic location and many other factors.  With so many variables, it is naive to think there is a single best approach to determine what is “Best” for BI-related decisions.  Too often, best practice is determined solely by the company’s operational systems, or other single factors.  It doesn’t always end with bad results, but it can prove to be a disastrous approach.  If you don’t consider all the factors that influence the business, the project-related constraints and, most importantly, your business’ BI objectives, how can you feel justified that you have chosen the “Best Practices” for your organization?   

When seeking advice, weigh recommendations carefully and assess them against your unique set of factors.  Consider the bias of your advice givers; their recommendations may be in their best interest and not yours necessarily.  Remember, there are no “silver BI bullets.  There are pros and cons in every aspect of your BI strategy and processes, and it is up to you determine what is uniquely best for you.  Never forget the people you are ultimately making “Best Practice” decisions for:  “The Business Users.”