Although any business intelligence or BI project is unique and responds to technical particularities and specific integration processes, it is possible to define certain stages or phases, as well as a set of characteristics that are common to almost all of them.
BI projects always respond to the same basic objective: giving the business or organisation the necessary tools for them to take the most appropriate strategic and operational decisions, using data analysis as the basis. The main concern of any BI project is for any person with responsibility or decision-making capacity in a company to have all the appropriate, precise, relevant information, which is ultimately converted into a valid and useful tool used as a basis, reinforcement or argument when it comes to making important decisions for the organisation.
The best guarantee that a BI project will be useful and truly functional is to structure it into several well-defined stages, each of them with their own specific objectives and procedure.
Stage 1. Definition of objectives and requirements
The initial stage consists of performing an analysis of requirements, both present and future, of the organisation. From these requirements, a set of specific objects can then to be defined, focusing on their solution and satisfaction.
This is a key phase of the process and must be characterised by its precision, as well as the definition of requirements and objectives. What concrete decisions they wish to take and what type of information is required must be determined and on which variables the analysis will be based.
Stage 2. The choice of methodology and the tools to be used
Next, always keeping in mind the objectives and requirements, the specific methodology and the BI tools to be used should be chosen. This also entails the training and implementation of work teams.
The objectives of the project are what will decide if the methodology and tools used must be focused, for example, on the detection of errors, the representation of work flows or, perhaps, the generation of new ideas.
Stage 3. Establishment of a work programme
In a detailed, precise and clear manner, all the actions to be carried out should be defined, as well as the necessary infrastructure and resources, to cover the chosen methodology for data analysis, together with the deadlines.
Stage 4. Presentation actions
The next stage consists of creating and presenting bulletins, reports, dashboard flowcharts and infographs, in a highly visual, clear and schematic format, aimed at facilitating the work of the professionals responsible for decision making.
This stage is equally important although, on occasion, it is unfairly underrated. This means that, quite frequently, a very well-executed BI programme ends up losing points due to poor presentation. Design experts should carry out this task.
Stage 5. Training, system and support programme implementation.
The execution of a BI process is only useful if the information, correctly analysed, reaches the people with decision-making capacity using the right support. Nevertheless, these people can only take the fullest advantage of the process if they have previously received adequate training and technical support, both with tools and with the correct data interpretation techniques.