This paper provides insight into the top four worst practices for business intelligence. It also provides guidance on how to avoid or overcome worst practices in order to tap into the true power of Business Intelligence. By reading this paper, you will have a solid understanding of how to avoid BI failure and achieve success with your BI initiatives.
Worst Practices in Business IntelligenceWhy BI Applications Succeed Where BI Tools FailA White Paperby Kevin R. QuinnVice President of Product MarketingUntitled DocumentKevin R. Quinn is vice president of product marketing for InformationBuilders. Kevin has over 24 years experience designing and implementingbusiness intelligence and enterprise integration solutions. He has written and published many articles and white papers on strategicinformation architecture. In his various roles at Information Builders, Kevin has helped companiesworldwide develop information deployment strategies that help themaccelerate decision-making and improve corporate performance. Hehas worked with global companies to implement best practices for theirsuccessful deploymentsKevin graduated from Queens College with a bachelor s degreein Computer Science.Kevin R. QuinnUntitled DocumentTurning Failure Into SuccessWorst Practice #1: Assuming the Average Business User Has the Know-How or Time to Use BI ToolsOverlooking the True End UserToo Much for Too FewIt s a Matter of TimeUsability Trumps CapabilitiesBI Go-To Guys and Multiple Versions of the TruthThe SolutionWorst Practice #2: Allowing Excel to Become the Default BI PlatformManual, Error-Prone ProcessThe Impact of Data ErrorsThe Creation of SpreadmartsThe SolutionWorst Practice #3: Assuming a Data Warehouse Will Solve All Information Access and DeliveryRequirementsFailing to Fully Assess the Need for a Data WarehouseThe SolutionWorst Practice #4: Selecting a BI Tool Without a Specific Business NeedThe SolutionYou Have the Antidote1271115Table of Contents142334457788111114Untitled DocumentBusiness intelligence (BI) software emerged in response to the need for accurate and timelyinformation to support informed business decisions. With origins in COBOL-based, green-linereports in the 70s and 80s, BI has evolved into a complex market comprised of tools and platforms.Tools exist for report design, ad hoc query, and online analytical processing (OLAP), while BIplatforms combine these tools with databases, integration technology, and portals to deliversophisticated BI applications. Whereas COBOL required IT involvement and months to generate a single report, today s solutions are targeted toward business users and boast real-time reports.Why is it then that the majority of organizations still feel that their information access and reporting needs are unfulfilled? BI software tools, platforms, and applications alike holds great potential for helpingorganizations readily access the enterprise information needed to make informed businessdecisions and, ultimately, achieve their business objectives. But, as with any technology, theimplementation, roll out, and usage practices play a critical role in the success of BI.In tracking mediocre results, and even failure1, in the implementation of BI software over theyears, many common threads, or worst practices, can be found. The top-four worst practicesfor BI include: Assuming the average business user has the know-how or the time to use BI tools Allowing Excel to become the default BI platform Assuming a data warehouse will solve all information access and delivery requirements Selecting a BI tool without a specific business need These worst practices set companies on the auspicious path of BI failure. They have been repeatedby some of the best run and smartest companies in the world. Typically, these worst practices arethe result of wanting to ride the latest technology wave without balancing the hype with practicalknowledge and experience.Designed to help organizations learn from the mistakes of others, this paper provides insight intothe top-four worst practices for BI. It also provides guidance on how to avoid and/or overcomeworst practices in order to tap into the true power of BI. By reading this paper, you will have a solid understanding of how to avoid BI failure and achieve success with your BI initiatives.1Information Builders Turning Failure Into Success1Failure is defined as a considerable expense with little or no return on investment.Untitled Document2Worst Practices in Business IntelligenceBI tools report design, ad hoc query, and OLAP tools provide a valuable service and play acritical role in a company s overall BI strategy. They are not, however, what business users need.Business users need readily available, actionable information that supports educated decision-making. While BI tools offer the ability to uncover information, they are simply too complex forthe majority of business users.Unfortunately, the end-user market is flooded with misguided hype from the vendor community,indicating that, BI tools are for everyone. Today s BI tools are typically targeted at business usersbecause they no longer require specific programming or database knowledge and primarily usegraphical, drag-and-drop interfaces to allow businesspeople to compose questions and retrieveformatted results from databases. Even with these advances, however, they are still too complex for the average end user to adopt as a part of their day-to-day routine.Furthermore, few business users are involved in the decision process when it comes to BI. Becauseof this, their need for simplicity is neglected and BI tools are forced on them from the IT developersand business unit power users a sure recipe for failure.Overlooking the True End UserOften, the first (not to mention the most damaging) mistake that organizations make whenassessing BI solutions is neglecting to include business users on the selection committee. Thisseems counterintuitive because business users will be the predominant users of the solution, but ithappens all the time.More often than not, it is the participants in the tool selection committee that are at the source ofBI failure. If the assumption is that business users need a BI tool, then the committee is typicallymade up of IT developers and other advanced users who understand how to use them. Individualsof this skill set tend to look for tools with extensive features and advanced functionality with littleregard for their overall usability. In other words, the selection committee only represents the needsof a small percentage of the business user population.When business users are excluded from the solution selection process, their need for simplicity iscompletely overlooked. The eventual decision of the committee represents the needs of only theadvanced users. And of the tools purchased for the entire user population, 90 percent or moreoften end up as shelfware. Additionally, the advanced users who can make sense of the tools often find themselves spendinghours creating a single report. Very few people have hours to spend every time they need a pieceof information, let alone to handle information requests from their non-technical colleagues.Worst Practice #1: Assuming the Average Business UserHas the Know-How or the Time to Use BI ToolsUntitled DocumentInformation Builders3Too Much for Too FewBI report design, ad hoc query, and OLAP analysis tools have hundreds, if not thousands, of features.Although the user interface is often simple, complexity is introduced from the data side. Even asimple data warehouse has hundreds of columns of data, and it s not uncommon for morecomplex systems to have thousands of columns. When an end user is faced with a blank canvas,thousands of columns of data, and hundreds of accessible features, complexity is automatic. Where do I begin? is often the first question, shortly followed by I don't have time for this, or I give up. The user skill pyramid is a widely discussed and generally agreed upon description of the end users in most organizations. The simple version of the pyramid shown below demonstrates that 90 percent of the users within most organizations fit into the class of users known as non-technicalbusiness users, which means that only 10 percent of users are advanced enough to use a BI tool.Figure 1: It is generally recognized that 90 percent of the information workers in most organizations can be categorized as non-technical business users.What may not be obvious from the pyramid is that most executives and managers, often the primary strategic decision-makers, are in the lower portion of the pyramid that is the non-technical users.It s a Matter of TimeIn some instances executives and managers are technical enough to use a BI tool, but they don thave the time to work with a BI tool and navigate a data warehouse to produce the informationthey need. Most people need a faster, easier way to get the information they need than thatprovided by a BI tool.Untitled DocumentUsability Trumps CapabilitiesHow is it that so many companies evaluate, purchase, and deploy BI tools for more than theadvanced users at the top of the pyramid? There are several reasons. As mentioned earlier, the trueend user is typically excluded from the selection committee and BI tools vendors make overzealousclaims of it is so easy that anyone can use it; and everyone should! Additionally, IT managers areoverburdened with requests for information, which feeds their desire for relief and makes themvulnerable to the BI-tools-for-everyone approach.In one situation, a project leader stated that her organization was in the process of deploying aBI tool and all information requests would be ad hoc. When asked if they really believe this iswhat their users need, the answer is typically a resounding, Yes. Followed by, "that was ourinterpretation of what they wanted. The challenge in this situation is that the project leader ismaking a decision based on a desired end result, with little or no consideration of the processrequired to produce the result or whether or not the users will embrace this process. Needless to say these projects never get off the ground. The lion s share of the users never use thetools because they are too complex. They continue to ask IT or other more proficient end users forinformation. Of course the information they need comes to them at a snails pace.Ralph Kimball, an expert on data warehousing, explains this very clearly in his book, The DataWarehouse Toolkit; 2nd Edition. He states, Ad hoc query tools, as powerful as they are, can beunderstood and used effectively only by a small percentage of the potential data warehousebusiness user population. BI Go-To Guys and Multiple Versions of the TruthIn some cases, moderately successful deployments of BI tools are found in individual departments.Usually that means that each department has identified and relies on a handful of advanced userswho become the tool experts, or the BI go-to guys. These users employ the BI tool on the behalf ofothers, and create and distribute information for their department. In these cases, another issue isbrought to the surface the inconsistency of the answers generated by more than one advanceduser, also known as multiple versions of the truth. Multiple versions of the truth result when two or more people apply different query methods andfunctions, and arrive at different conclusions. The challenge is that it s difficult to know which, if any,conclusion is correct.The tool-based efforts of advanced BI users do not go through the same rigorous quality testing ofan IT department. Their work within a tool is typically not auditable. When this occurs, the validity ofthe information system, the BI tool, and the data warehouse are all brought into question.Worst Practices in Business Intelligence4Untitled DocumentValid or not, many companies have more confidence in operational reports generated, and testedby IT professionals. Many become skeptical of pure ad hoc information created with a BI toolbecause of the potential for variations and inconsistencies.The SolutionOrganizations need BI solutions that are easy to use for the entire user population, especiallythose in the bottom portion of the usability pyramid. In addition, they need a solution thatmitigates multiple versions of the truth by providing access to a common source of enterpriseinformation and standardized report generation methods. A BI platform is the answer to all ofthese requirements.A BI platform leverages BI tools along with other technologies, including databases, dataintegration, and portals to provide an end-to-end solution for a defined business problem or set of business problems that can be termed a BI application. While BI platforms are implementedby IT professionals, their end result, the BI application, is designed for business users.Organizations have been led to believe that BI platforms are too complex for their needs. Thiscouldn t be further from the truth. When you consider the data integration, warehousing, and end-user training costs associated with BI tools, a BI application built on a BI platform has aboutthe same time to market as a BI tool. And end users embrace easy-to-use BI applications as partof their day-to-day routine, which is arguably the most critical success factor of any application. This is why BI platforms have far greater success than BI tools. The fact is that most non-technical business users can and will access information through BIapplications, which are much simpler to use than BI tools. BI applications leverage reportingtechnology, Web browsers, and e-mail to make information more accessible to these business usersin a comfortable, easy-to-use environment. For example, today s parameter-driven BI applications provide users a simple Web interface tonavigate to the report they want, much the same way they would find an item on eBay or a bookon Amazon. BI applications allow users to easily customize the report by selecting options frompull-down menus the same way they would fill in their address and select their home state or ashipping option from a drop-down list.Information Builders WebFOCUS, a business intelligence platform, is specifically designed to allowdevelopers to create exactly these types of applications, as illustrated in Figure 2.Ralph Kimball also says, The majority of the user base likely will access the data via pre-builtparameter-driven analytic applications. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of the potential users willbe served by these canned applications that are essentially finished templates that do not requireusers to construct relational queries directly. 5Information Builders Untitled DocumentFigure 2: A WebFOCUS BI application.Information Builders uses a guided ad hoc approach as the foundation of our business intelligenceapplications. This approach combines sophisticated functionality with ease of use to allow users tocreate their own reports without requiring a tool and without being a technologist. It makes businessintelligence consumable by non-technical users by guiding them to the answers they need.WebFOCUS applications are based on this guided ad hoc navigation. (See figure 2.) WebFOCUSallows developers to create filter and column prompts, and report templates for business users,who can easily customize the templates via the prompts. The result: a single, parameter-drivenreport that offers thousands of potential outputs without requiring the end user to understandhow to use a BI tool. WebFOCUS also provides the ability for each form to include a subscription/schedule option.Leveraging the Web browser and subscription option, users can request to receive regular updatesto the information they create via e-mail. Overall this reduces complexity and the amount of timespent creating and retrieving information, as well as improving the adoption of the application bymore non-technical business users.Based on a combination of parameters, WebFOCUS flexible reporting environment ensures thatdevelopers are never overburdened with new report requests. Additionally, developers canorganize reports and prompting forms in a simple navigable portal, so business users receive the simplicity, flexibility, and customization capabilities they need to embrace BI as part of theirday-to-day work routine. Worst Practices in Business Intelligence6Untitled DocumentExcel is arguably the most widely used BI tool in the world. While many consider it to be just aspreadsheet, Excel houses many organizations financial reports. In fact, Excel thrives in the absenceof true BI applications. At best, Excel is a BI tool. In addition to all of the problems associated with BItools discussed in the previous section, Excel introduces its own unique set of problems. The beauty of Excel is that it provides an extremely simple interface for commonly neededfunctions like calculating, presenting, and displaying numerical data. Such functionality is socommonly needed by business users that Excel, as a part of Microsoft Office, is installed on nearly every single desktop and laptop, as well as many mobile devices, around the world. It is astandard utility tool given to practically every information worker the day they start their first job.Manual, Error-Prone ProcessesEven though Excel provides much utility for business users, it wreaks havoc on the quality andconsistency of information. This is especially damaging in heavily regulated industries that mustadhere to strict compliance legislation. Consider the following, all-too-common scenario: Business analysts develop Excel spreadsheets to assist with the day-to-day operational decisionsthat their jobs demand Pleased with the autonomy and sophisticated analysis that Excel supports, they share theirinnovations with colleagues, who then modify the spreadsheet logic and manually tack on datafrom their own information silos Over time, rogue spreadsheets with data from multiple dubious spreadsheets are propagatedthroughout the organization, and executives find themselves making decisions based onuntraceable, questionable dataIn this scenario, the enterprise is at a loss to audit the information and numbers in the spreadsheets(i.e. their reports ) for themselves or for regulatory agencies. Meanwhile, the IT division hascomplete, auditable, and backed-up operational system data that is untapped by the Excel user community. The Impact of Data ErrorsExcel was never intended to be a BI tool. It is not Excel that is at fault, but rather its use as a BI tool.Much of what is found in Excel spreadsheets is put there through a manual, error-prone, process,which should never be the case with BI. BI applications should only utilize data from reliable, trustworthy sources. One report said that as much as 7 percent of all data found in Excel spreadsheets is wrong. Theimpact of this scenario has been brought to light recently in many widely publicized instanceswhere Excel errors have cost companies millions of dollars. In the last year the EuropeanWorst Practice #2: Allowing Excel to Become the Default BI Platform7Information Builders Untitled DocumentSpreadsheet Risk Interest Group, a group that analyzes and quantifies the cost of spreadsheet errorsworldwide, reported various situations, including: A public auditor s office in Minneapolis mistakenly reported the percentage change inunreserved fund balances; an analyst set up the formula for the column in the spreadsheet,dividing the difference between 2003 and 2004 balances by the 2004 total, instead of the 2003 figure A Housing and Urban Development (HUD) audit revealed that a local housing authority had to pay over 200,000 to cover expenses incurred when the authority overpaid some landlordsdue to a data-entry error In Nevada, a 2006 municipal budget was developed from a copy of the city s 2005 budgetingspreadsheet; in late 2005, a problem was revealed causing a 5 million deficit in the water andsewer fund; while fixing the problem with the water and sewer budget, other errors wereuncovered and fixed A well-known medical and consumer imaging company had to amend its third-quarter loss by 9 million, announcing that the adjustment was needed because too many zeros were added to an employee s accrued severance on a spreadsheet; the company s CFO characterizedthe situation as an internal control deficiency The Creation of SpreadmartsAnother unique phenomenon created by Excel is what is called spreadmarts. When individualusers accumulate their own store of relied-upon data in their personal spreadsheets to a pointwhere their information becomes a critical data source, it becomes a spreadmart. A spreadmart isan unregulated, non-secure datamart in the hands of a user who rarely backs up his or her data and may leave his or her job on a moment s notice. This single user isn t a problem so much as the accumulation of hundreds of users with unregulated datamarts.Excel or, more aptly put, the spreadmarts created with Excel is often considered an IT depart-ment s worst nightmare. This is because whenever a senior-level executive comes to understandthe dangers of spreadmarts, it becomes the IT department s job to come in and make sense of thedata and the environment, and to somehow regulate, automate, and maintain the chaos. Hence, inIT departments many have debated whether Excel is a productivity tool or an anti-productivity tool. The SolutionStopping business analysts from using Excel is like preventing water from flowing downhill. It s not going to happen. What can be done, however, is minimizing the manual work done in Excel,and preventing the accumulation of critical data in personal spreadsheets.One way to do this is to turn Excel into a BI viewer, as opposed to a BI tool. If accurate,preformatted, and precalculated data is fed into Excel applications, the user has little or no work todo to get the results he or she needs. If this process is automated, then data can live in a regulatedand secure source, such as in the data warehouse or operational system, and only feed into Excelupon request.Worst Practices in Business Intelligence8Untitled DocumentInformation Builders WebFOCUS offers two options that help significantly with this problem: Automatic generation of reports in Excel format Automatic update (or refresh) of Excel spreadsheets and applications with accurate, regulateddata from any connected data sourceBoth of these options limit the amount of manual work performed in Excel, decrease data errors,and reduce the accumulation of personal spreadmarts. Not to mention that these options presentthe added benefit of improving analyst productivity.Figures 3 and 4 show how WebFOCUS provides the ability for any report to be generated (uponuser request) as an Excel spreadsheet. Figure 3 shows the form through which the user identifiesthe report parameters and then requests the report to be generated in Excel. Figure 4 shows theExcel report that results from the request. Figure 3: The Excel output option from within a WebFOCUS BI application.Figure 4: The Excel output generated by a WebFOCUS BI application.9Information Builders Untitled DocumentOne key differentiator that may not be obvious in the Figure 2 and 3 screenshots is that WebFOCUS automatically translates calculations and subtotals in the report into Excel calculationsand summations. This critical function is absent in most other BI tools. When it is absent from thetool, the user is forced to create calculations and summations manually, which re-introduces thepotential for errors. Instead, with WebFOCUS, the user can simply use the spreadsheet as is,reducing time, effort, and errors.Some have argued that Excel applications are so much more than just reports. They are placeswhere analysts can plan budgets and try out financial scenarios. Information Builders is keenlyaware of Excel's value proposition across so many different industries and for so many types ofbusiness challenges. With this in mind, we have designed WebFOCUS to work with Excel, not toeliminate its use. The value-add that WebFOCUS brings to the table is the elimination of error-pronedata entry processes and silos of individual datamarts, both of which put organizations at risk of violating the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations around data accuracy and availability. WebFOCUS does not eliminate Excel from your business users work life, rather it allows Excelworksheets to be directly updated/or refreshed with up-to-date data directly from the sourceapplication or database. Simply put, WebFOCUS makes Excel more secure and less error prone,while still allowing users to work in their preferred environment.Worst Practices in Business Intelligence10Untitled DocumentThis particular worst practice is complex. Data warehouses are a very important part of informationtechnology and, in particular, are a critical component of many analytical systems. So it is not thedata warehouse that is the problem. Rather the worst practice arises when a data warehouse isviewed as the solution to all information problems or when it is expected that the availability ofthe data warehouse will drive business users to information. The truth is that not all BI applications require a data warehouse. Many BI applications are betterserved with integration and portal technology that allows data to reside where it currently existsand pulls it on an as-needed basis. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to assess whether or not adata warehouse is the right solution to their challenge before starting down the warehouse path. Failing to Fully Assess the Need for a Data WarehouseSo often companies begin a data warehouse project before they have a BI solution, or even beforean information need has been identified, only to find that they have incurred another expense andhave not solved a single problem. When either of these scenarios occurs, companies immediatelyraise their cost of doing business. Organizations often rush into the creation of data warehouses for reasons that are not entirely valid, such as: My business intelligence solution required it and not because it made sense for the business problem I needed to get data from more than one application, so a data warehouse was necessary I needed a data warehouse because all information systems require itBuilding a data warehouse for these reasons may automatically reduce the timeliness of your dataand increase the expense of your overall system. According to leading industry analysts, integrationand movement of data (data warehousing) can consume as much as 80 percent of the cost of a BIimplementation. Simply put, data warehouses should not be implemented without a clearunderstanding of the business challenge they will support, and decisions around data warehousesshould be well researched.The SolutionThere are many ways to integrate data from your databases and applications that allow you toplace important, timely information in a business user s hands at the point of business. Eachbusiness challenge and/or process should be analyzed to understand whether a data warehouseor another type of information access tool presents the best solution.The key thing to remember here is to identify the best information integration and access methodfor your needs first, and not to assume that a data warehouse is the solution before assessing all options.Worst Practice #3: Assuming a Data Warehouse Will SolveAll Information Access and Delivery Requirements11Information Builders Untitled DocumentInformation Builders WebFOCUS utilizes over seven ways to integrate and access data to solve aspecific business problem. The following list reviews four prominent methods that are lower in cost and give business users more timely access to information than a data warehouse. Operational data access, which provides reporting directly from operational applications or acopy of operational data Trickle-feed or near real-time data warehouses, which take transactional data and place it into a data warehouse at transaction time Transactional alerts, which generate information and deliver it directly to a user based on time-sensitive transactional information Web services reporting, which combines information available as Web services from internal and external sources to create reports that are delivered directly to business usersIdentify the Best Solution for Your NeedsOrganizations need to carefully assess their unique challenge and all of the available solutions toidentify the best way to resolve their problem. Consider the following examples where a typical,staged data warehouse was not necessary for a business intelligence solution.Example A: Maintenance issues regarding airline seats on a major airline were going unattendedfor extended periods of time, preventing the airline from selling those seats on flights and reducingrevenue and profitability. The information the airline needed to expedite the repair of the seats wasdistributed across three different applications, and it was needed in real-time as the plane was onthe ground during its maintenance check. At first glance, it may seem that integrating the data from the three different applications into astaged data warehouse might present a solution. However, a complex, timely, and expensive datawarehouse initiative was not necessary. In this particular case, Information Builders identified that a single report was all that was needed to solve the problem. WebFOCUS was used to build areport that combined data from the plane maintenance system, which held information about seatand other problems on the plane; the parts inventory system that held information on where thenecessary parts existed to fix the problem (i.e., in which parts warehouse and at which airport); and,finally, the plane routing system, which held information on where all planes were next scheduledto be so that the part could be made available for maintenance at the soonest possible moment.Based on this one report, the airline now has better ability to attend to maintenance problems in a more timely fashion and, thus, has been able to increase seat sales and improve profitability. Example B: A telecom company had customer information stored in over five separate systems. Atany point when a customer interacted with the company, it was possible that that information wassent to and stored in any one of these five systems. The telecom had a staged data warehouse thataccumulated data nightly from these five sources. However, it became apparent that the data inthe data warehouse was often out of date, which caused major customer service problems. Phonecalls needed to be transferred from one customer support representative to another each havingWorst Practices in Business Intelligence12Untitled Documentaccess and expertise in only one of the five distinct operational systems. This practice delayed callresolutions, negatively affected customer satisfaction, and resulted in higher support costs.In this case, a data warehouse already existed, but for one reason or another it clearly wasn t servingits intended purpose. To resolve the situation, WebFOCUS integration technology was used to create a trickle-feed data warehouse. In the solution, WebFOCUS monitoring technologylistened for transactions going into all five operational systems and then enriched the data andadded it to the new real-time data warehouse. This solution gave a single customer support representative a complete view of the customer in a WebFOCUS reporting application within five minutes of any customer interaction.Identifying When Data Warehouses Make SenseAgain, it is not the data warehouse that is the problem; rather it is the reason for building it thatoften presents the challenge. The challenge is to be able to identify when a data warehouse willtruly help solve a business challenge.Many valid reasons exist for building a data warehouse, including: When there is a critical need to reduce overhead on a transaction system or productionapplication in order to improve performance of that system and the resulting BI application thatwill access the data warehouse When BI tools require access to data, and you need to reduce the complexity of data to speedthe query creation process When it is necessary to analyze data across older, historical time periods and that data is nolonger accessible in the operational applicationsIf you are endeavoring to build a BI system for your company, the key point to remember in relationto this BI worst practice is that it s a misjudgment to assume that a warehouse is required. Alwaysstart by evaluating the information need and selecting the data integration option that best fulfills your requirements. You may find that a data warehouse suits your needs, but moreimportantly, you may not.13Information Builders Untitled DocumentWorst Practices in Business IntelligenceWorst Practice #4: Selecting a BI Tool Without a SpecificBusiness NeedYou might have noticed that the two business examples given in the previous section the majorairline and the telecommunications company both had finely defined problems and solutionswith clear business objectives. Their understanding of their problem helped them identify andimplement an effective BI solution. On the other hand, one of the most egregious of the four worstpractices in this paper is the purchase of BI software for general purpose analysis. In fact, thelargest expenses and the smallest ROI is a result of purchasing a solution for general purpose BI. In other words, a company recognizes the need for business analysis and immediately plans aproject to evaluate and purchase a BI solution for their users.Without a specific purpose, BI rarely has impact on business. The starting point for creating a BIsolution should be when you identify a project that will solve a specific problem through access to information in a timely fashion and in the right context. Solve a problem, means thatinformation will accelerate a slow running process, eliminate a bottleneck, reduce the cost of doing business, or even become a new revenue source.When information requirements such as these are identified up front and used as the businessdriver behind the BI implementation, the implementation of the BI system has a much greaterlikelihood for success.The SolutionThe lesson here is that your motivation for pursuing and purchasing BI software, or building a datawarehouse for that matter, should never be general purpose. If you want success, understand thebusiness problem and know beforehand what can be expected if information is injected into the process.While this lesson s roots are less about technology than the others, Information Builders solutionsallow you to think outside the box when designing a system. WebFOCUS is not just a tool foraccessing a data warehouse, but a software platform that allows you to get data from anywhere at any latency and provide it at a specific point of business to solve a problem. That is where youwill receive clear and easily quantifiable benefits.14Untitled DocumentYou Have the AntidoteWhile some of what has been mentioned in this paper may seem like common sense, you can bet that someone in your organization will begin efforts that will put into effect at least one ofthese worst practices. Who can blame them when industry trade journals, the vendors, andtechnology consultants promote the latest technology and promise all sorts of benefits? It s easy to get caught up in the hype.The good news is that you are well armed to identify and combat at least these four worst practicesbefore they take root and grow into a strangling vine. In addition to the solutions presented in thispaper, you can also use counterintuition to the worst practices to provide you a clearer path to success. Consider the following. Start your next project by identifying how timely information delivered in the right context can accelerate a process, reduce costs, or improve productivity in a particular area. Do not start the project for a general purpose! Identify which data integration method will allow you to prepare the data for your application in the most timely and least costly manner. You may find out that a data warehouse isappropriate, or perhaps not. (If you have already chosen a tool it may limit your choices in this area.) Build a BI application that leverages Web-based, parameter-driven forms, personal end-userscheduling for regular e-mail delivery, and alternate output options (e.g. HTML, Excel, PDF) to give end users flexibility. Include business users on the selection committee to ensure that you implement a solution that will be embraced by all users. For most users, this means an easy-to-use BI application thatdoesn t require too much of their time. But don t neglect the preferences of your technical users either. BI tools, although complex, are a great way to provide technical business analystswith a way to contribute new insight to an evolving BI application. Evaluate how manytechnically savvy analysts you really have and build these tools into the final solution. Be sure thattheir work can easily be shared with other less technical business users so everyone can benefit.These steps will deliver an end result with a clearly defined ROI. You will have identified yourbusiness need upfront. And you will have laid the groundwork for wide user adoption by including the true user in the selection process and implementing an easy-to-use BI applicationthat integrates with preferred desktop applications.While these four steps can be followed regardless of your choice of BI platform, we strongly believe Information Builders WebFOCUS will give you the appropriate blend of integration choices (more than seven options), application development capabilities (for parameter-basedreporting and scheduling), and the most flexible output options. All of this will allow you to build a simple, flexible BI application that will result in wide user adoption, which will in turn help the organization achieve its business goals.15Information Builders Untitled DocumentCorporate HeadquartersTwo Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2898 (212) 736-4433 Fax (212) 967-6406DN7505619.0507www.informationbuilders.com firstname.lastname@example.orgCanadian Headquarters150 York St., Suite 1000, Toronto, ON M5H 3S5 (416) 364-2760 Fax (416) 364-6552For International Inquiries +1(212) 736-4433Copyright 2007 by Information Builders, Inc. All rights reserved.  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Ltd.Bangkok 662-679-1927, ext. 200 Venezuela InfoServices ConsultingCaracas 58-212-763-1653Toll-Free Number Sales, ISV, VAR, and SI Partner Information(800) 969-4636**Training facilities are located at these branches;additional locations are available.**Authorized to sell iWay Software only.Sales and Consulting Offices