When deciding on a BI upgrade, there may be a dubious question lurking at the back of the mind regarding the need and appropriate time for it. The following checklist and tips should help clear most of the doubts and indicate the prerequisites of the BI upgrade.
1) Requirement of business users
The management’s requirement will play a big role in defining the need for a BI upgrade. The purpose of any BI tool is to cater to the business user. The BI upgrade may be an option to look at any particular type of reporting, e.g. of procurement prices. What customers would expect from a BI solution is a balanced scorecard. They want a dashboard where they can see the company snapshot. If their requirements have increased, a BI upgrade may be necessary.
To illustrate the point, consider an ERP process where data gets generated. BI is associated with this and thus end to end process information can be viewed. The project profitability can be seen. The causes for these can be analyzed at the micro-level and the macro level. If the current tool is insufficient for such in-depth analysis, then a BI upgrade may be necessary.
The top management will not completely trust manually generated information. If they suspect manipulation of data, a BI upgrade to automated processes is a must.
2) Objectives of BI upgrade
The first objective behind the BI upgrade would be to improve operational excellence. Another aim would be gaining the most out of the cost of IT procurement. Cost-cutting may be one of the ways to make a good profit. Thus, an organization needs to improve its internal processes.
For a BI upgrade, the third area is of sales. As business wants to target a customer-base, it wants to know which product / segment needs focus, what areas of advertisement can be utilized, etc.
The fourth consideration for a BI upgrade would include manpower planning, training of employees, their compensation, and human capital management (to reduce attrition rates). Investments are made but the information on the ongoing of these processes needs to be made available. Upgrade if it will ensure this.
3) Need for better data integrity
Another aspect to be considered is data integrity of the BI or reporting tool that’s currently being used. There cannot be manipulation of numbers while presenting reports to the management. The upper management is dependent on others to generate these reports. The top management will not completely trust this information until it is completely automated. If they suspect that there is manipulation of data, a BI upgrade to automated processes is a must.
4) Increasing number of data sources
The needs of the information lifecycle management may vary from organization to organization. But as a thumb rule, an increase in the number of data sources would in turn increase the need of a data warehouse tool.
When it comes to a BI upgrade, the questions needed to be asked are, how much of this data is needed for analysis, or can this data be archived in an offline mode. The BI upgrade would also be dependent on this. The performance level of a BI tool is inversely proportional to volume of data. If BI upgrade can resolve these data warehousing issues, then it must be considered.
5) Revenue obtained from BI upgrade
The percentage of revenue obtained from the BI solution and the dependence on reporting plays key roles in determining whether a BI upgrade is necessary. If the dependence is low, the investments would be meaningless. The efficacy of BI upgrade is directly proportionate to the usage of the tool.
6) Support after BI upgrade
Support would also depend on the data load and maintenance, the availability of all the data every day. Support is a continuous ongoing process. The bottom line is that the data should be relevant and available 24/7, even for an upgrade.
If several of the above are issues and concerns of an organization then the plans for a BI upgrade should definitely be on the horizon.
About the Author: Ambuj Kathuria is the Practice Head - SAP NW BI Services/ CoE at Wipro. His experience includes 9 Full Life Cycle Implementations, Consultancy, Enhancements, rollout and Upgrade of SAP BI projects as well as Program Management, Project Management for SAP projects.
(As told to Sharon D'Souza)
This was first published in December 2010