Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A BI Solution Is Not Just for Christmas, It's for Life!

Yes I know … everybody go “a-a-a-ah”.

Well we are in those first few weeks after Christmas … that period where the local dogs home or RSPCA are inundated with unwanted animals.

But this happens every Christmas. When are people going to learn? And what does it take really?

Well it takes some forethought and planning. It takes an understanding of what you want to get out of this relationship and also, more importantly … what do you want to put in?

Is the puppy going to be a working dog or just a pet? Do you want a hairy dog or one that does not need much grooming? Do you want a big dog or a small dog? Do you want one that is energetic or just sleeps by the fire?  

So with the new Labrador puppy, it is training … just as much training for the owner as the puppy.

It is time … who is around during the day to take the puppy for its exercise? You do not leave animals on their own for long periods of time, certainly not all day.

It is planning … who is going to walk and feed the new puppy? Dogs appreciate the whole family as part of their new “pack” but tend to decide on one person as a master. 

It is anticipating change in the future … who will be around? With an average life span of 12-15 years or more … who is going to be there? If family members are going to leave for University or get married and leave home, who will take up ownership of the puppy.

Lastly, we have the maintenance and running costs. This is not only food but have you prepared for the vets bills or are you going to have a monthly insurance payment?

So you can start to understand why a BI Solution fits the same thought process.

And a lot of BI Solutions fail because of little or no planning and no thought to training or requirements, or support and maintenance over its life span.

Some BI products are simply purchased because of an immediate need, and then lay around not getting used again. Meanwhile another department in the same organisation purchase another “flavor of the month” BI product, and goes through the same process.
So a true BI solution needs planning. And like the puppy scenario, has to include training, maintenance, support, external expertise when required … and lots more that only comes to light when everybody talks, and more importantly everybody listens.

So if the family had just discussed the possibility of a new “little addition” to the family before presenting the puppy on Christmas day, things could have been handled differently and the outcome would have been controlled and managed. All the family would have “bought in” to the changes to come.

The BI Solution is exactly the same.

Ask the question “What are we expecting to get out of installing and implementing a new BI Solution?” You will be surprised at the replies if you do indeed ask everybody in the business. And how are you going to implement a true BI Solution?  Don’t just drop it on the carpet on Christmas Day! Get the team trained before it arrives so everybody knows their role.

With BI it means the report writers are not given a product they have never seen. They have been trained or have been on a mentoring course and are ready for the “go live” date.

The database people have the data ready and cleansed for the report writers.

They have prepared the data based on what the stakeholders in the business have all agreed are the sets of information most critical to the business and the decisions that have to make. 

The analysts have been shown and understand the tools they are going to use to extract data “on demand” when typically management are looking at trends or trying to push the business in other directions. Or maybe they are simply trapping scenarios that help them make decisions earlier. 

When things go wrong you have agreements with external experts who can get things back on track.  

All of these processes are the same for the new puppy as for a new BI Solution. But the main factor in success is that the whole process is planned, and planned to deliver something back for the effort that you put in.

The key to success is getting “buy in”. Get the whole family to buy into the new puppy, know their responsibilities and roles and the new puppy will become part of your family.
Get the business to “buy in” to a companywide BI Solution, with everybody knowing their responsibilities and roles … and the BI Solution will become part of your business.

I will be going through these items and thought processes in more detail at our DSCallards Seminar on 6th February at SAP offices in Maidenhead.

So when we decided to add a new puppy to the family we knew we had the room so we planned to have two for company. Meg, the golden cocker spaniel and Flossie, the bearded collie.

We decided to have Meg 6 months before Flossie as she would be the smaller of the two and we hoped she would then become the “leader of the pack” in puppy terms. That worked perfectly.

We knew we had plenty of space for them to run at home and we had no plans to move again, but also planned and budgeted for a dog walker who takes them out daily just in case we are away on business that day.

We planned and budgeted to pay a monthly insurance to cover most veterinary bills, and this has worked to our advantage on more than one occasion.

We planned and budgeted to train ourselves and the puppies in what we wanted them to do and how we wanted them to do things. 

Finally, we agreed where they would sleep every night, if they were allowed in the bedrooms, if they were allowed on the chairs and sofas, how much and how often we would have them groomed by experts … and that we would take it in turns to walk them each day.

Let me introduce you to Flossie and Meg, our well planned BI success story!

Ray Kemp, Technical Director, DSCallards Ltd
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