Defining a successful BI strategy is a lot more than gathering requirements and selecting a vendor. While it’s been a subject of many books, I know few of you have time to read them, so here’s a short version.

  1. First defining what BI is and what it is not. Is it just reporting, analytics and dashboards? Or does it involve ETL, DW, portal, MDM, etc., as well?
  2. If the former, you then need to define linkages, dependencies, overlaps and integration with all of the latter (including – very importantly – integration and coordination with the higher level enterprise architecture efforts). If latter, it’s a whole different subject. You then really do need to read a few thick books.
  3. Ensure senior business executive commitment and top down mandate. If you cannot get that, do not proceed until you do. Two ways to “sell BI” to them (even though that’s not a good position to be in):
    • Educate them on BI ROI. Here's where you'd build a high level BI business case.
    • And show them how you compare to your competitors and peers within or across your industries, geographies and markets
  4. Establish BI PMO, BICC, BI governance, etc.
  5. Document the current state of your BI environment
  6. Envision and propose a target state for the BI environment that includes identifying:
    • Requirements for all:
      • styles of BI (reporting, ad hoc querying, OLAP, dashboards, etc.)
      • people and roles: all stakeholders that will be affected
      • business vs. IT roles
      • decision types (strategic vs. operational) *
      • end user BI self service requirements *
      • agility, flexibility requirements *
      • process requirements
      • regional requirements (dealing with multiple currencies and cross border tax issues, for example)
      • post closing adjustments reporting requirements *
      • BI on BI requirements *
    • Dependencies, constraints (standards, other projects, initiatives, etc.)
    • Architecture
      • Technical
      • Metadata *
      • Security
      • Data
      • Integration (with other apps, processes, portals, etc.) architecture
      • Information delivery (desktop, portal, mobile, disconnected *, etc.)
    • Operational, training, support requirements
  7. Based on the target state requirements, build a vendor/technology shortlist, considering potential multiple vendor co-existence scenarios. This is where you consider buy vs. build vs. oursource vs. SaaS
  8. Identify gaps between the current state and the target state
  9. Design a road map to close the gaps and achieve the target state with:
    • Priorities and dependencies
    • Strategic and tactical steps (including proofs of concept and prototypes *)
    • Top-down vs. bottom-up design approaches (or a mix) *
    • Plans, such as:
      • Change management
      • QA
      • Risk management
      • Scope management
      • Communications
    • Now that all the plans and details are in place, you can proceed with building a detailed BI business case.

10. Select software vendor(s) and (if necessary) systems integrator

 * Steps typically mised in a traditional BI strategy excercise.