So you’ve decided your organization is ready to start paying some serious attention to Business Intelligence (BI). Great! You know it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take a lot of work, but you are 100 percent invested in a successful implementation. What are the first things you need to consider as you embark on this journey?

You might feel compelled to dive right in and start working on your data strategy, decide the tools you want to implement, and how you want to use them. However, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Is your organization ready to fully commit to BI?
  2. What do you really want to get out of your BI project?

Are you ready?

A company-wide data strategy will only be effective if the entire organization is on board—from executive leadership to front-line workers. Work on building a data-driven culture long before you start planning a BI implementation. Identify champions within the company—the folks who just light up when you start discussing what BI can offer. These people will be particularly receptive to change and will recognize the value of decisions driven by numbers more than by feel. They will exist at all levels of the organization and across all business units.

It is just as important to maintain this enthusiasm throughout your project and beyond. Even if your BI implementation is a smashing success, it will be for naught if your team ignores it. A recent study revealed that on average, 37 percent of the software a company purchases never actually gets used. That works out to $30 billion in wasted investment over a four-year period. Building a culture around data doesn’t end when your BI project is greenlit; it is a continuous process.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to have an open mind about the answers your data gives you. The results of a successful BI implementation may challenge conventional wisdom. That’s part of what makes it such an exciting proposition! If you discard results because they don’t dovetail with your expected outcome, you’re essentially ignoring your shiny new investment.

Ask why.

If you’re interested in ramping up your organization’s data-savviness through business intelligence, you’ve hopefully given some thought to what you want to get out of it. If you haven’t, this is an important first step. Write down one or two reasons why you want to head down this path.

If possible, keep these high-level and abstract. Some example objectives might include:

  • Accelerating growth
  • Eliminating waste and improving efficiency
  • Identifying potential new markets and offerings
  • Learning more about your customers or audience
  • Evaluating the relative success of certain key initiatives
  • Saving time spent producing tedious, manual reports

If you’re finding it hard to come up with a few focused reasons, or if you are hearing a variety of “whys” from your conversations with stakeholders, it might be helpful to drill a bit deeper: what are two or three critical questions that can be better answered by building a strong data culture and commitment to business intelligence? Once you’ve pulled those together, see if you can identify any common themes to roll these into some higher, over-arching objectives.

Whatever the reason (or reasons) you identify, keep these in mind as guiding principles throughout the process.

Start doing.

Remember, it’s important not only to build a culture of enthusiasm towards data, but to maintain it. Energy can wane as the project progresses, especially if the anticipated timeframe is long. One way to mitigate this is to provide some early wins. Fast forward all the way to the end of the plan. Are there some reports or dashboards you can develop right now, without a full BI infrastructure and strategy in place, that will demonstrate the value of your expected final product? If your users can see a real, working example of just what this initiative will deliver for them, it’ll help keep excitement high—and maybe even convert any straggling non-believers.

Trilix can help you build a comprehensive data strategy while also delivering some simple, early results to drive enthusiasm. To learn more about Trilix’s Business Intelligence offerings, click here.

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