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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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What to Expect from Your BI Implementation

You’ve spent the time, effort, and funds on your BI initiative. Now what? After launch comes the inevitable lessons learned or something like that. But before you get to that point, you should have set some expectations with the end users, right? No? Then let that be your first “lesson.” It’s essential to set realistic expectations prior to opening the floodgates. Your users need to know what they’ve bought – no one wants to drive the compact car when they thought they bought the luxury model.

Let’s take a look at a few of the expectations, that if properly established, will make the end users feel like they weren’t lead astray:

  1. Performance. Sticking with the car theme, no one really buys a subcompact expecting Ferrari-like speed. If you’ve set realistic performance expectations for your BI solution, it’s easier to discuss performance based on real-life experiences. Yes, everyone wants their answers now; but if the answers require your BI solution to scan huge transactional tables without optimization, then it’s essential that you don’t set an expectation for sub-second response times.
  2. Usability. Face it, you could have just implemented the prettiest BI solution out there, but who’s the primary audience? Setting the expectations around who should be using the tool is another crucial step. Does upper management want a multi-click workflow to get their metrics? Are your power users able to replicate their custom logic in the new spartan point-and-click system? Probably not. And honestly, they probably don’t want to. When implementing your BI solution, make sure you’ve covered the “who should be the primary user of this tool” expectation.
  3. Development turnaround. Most modern BI tools offer (or have a component that offers) some type of self-service reporting. In some situations, this allows end users to generate their own BI content – although it may not be an option with the tool, company policies, or business workflows, self service. In that’s the case, you need to communicate the appropriate schedules to the end users. Failure to set this expectation can wreak havoc on both users and IT. You must also minimize the number of change requests and set realistic expectations of when IT can process a request lest you cause an uproar.

Of course, when you set these expectations, the earlier the better. Being flexible with what the users can anticipate on day one is crucial. If everyone knows what to expect from the get go, subsequent releases can follow the same model of cooperation. No one likes being told no. “Not yet, here’s why” is a much better way to deliver the same news.