Get ready for BI change

To compete in today's global economy, businesses and governments need agility and the ability to adapt quickly to change. And what about internal adoption to roll out enterprise-grade Business Intelligence (BI) applications?


BI change is ongoing; often, many things change concurrently. One element that too often takes a back seat is the impact of changes on the organisation's people. Prosci, an independent research company focused on organisational change management (OCM), has developed benchmarks that propose five areas in which change management needs to do better.

They all involve the people side of change: better engage the sponsor; begin organisational change management early in the change process; get employees engaged in change activities; secure sufficient personnel resources; and better communicate with employees.

Because BI is not a single application — and often not even a single platform — we recommend adding a sixth area: visibility into BI usage and performance management of BI itself, aka BI on BI. Forrester recommends keeping these six areas top of mind as your organisation prepares for any kind of change.

Some strategic business events, like mergers, are high-risk initiatives involving major changes over two or more years; others, such as restructuring, must be implemented in six months. In the case of BI, some changes might need to happen within a few weeks or even days.

All changes will lead to either achieving or failing to achieve a business. There are seven major categories of business and organisational change:

  1. People acquisitions
  2. Technology acquisitions
  3. Business process changes
  4. New technology implementations
  5. Organisational transformations
  6. Leadership changes
  7. Changes to business process outsourcing or technology sourcing

When organisations decide to implement change, detailed upfront planning puts the framework in place to make that change a success. Project and change management teams work in parallel but have many points of intersection. Project managers focus on aspects like tasks, timelines, and technology, while change managers look at which people will be affected by the change and plan ways to mitigate fear. With any change, no matter how small, do not neglect the people angle by focusing only on the project management aspects of the change. Prosci warns that ignoring the people side of change until employees greet a go-live date with outrage and resistance will result in teams having to go back to the drawing board and rework, redesign, re-evaluate, and revisit the entire effort.
In the modern world, one cannot leave technology to technologists.

In BI, this is especially challenging and critical with the added complexity of increased business involvement. Unlike other enterprise technology applications, where business and technology partner, in BI the business owns many BI components and work streams. In the world of BI, technology is everyone's job. Therefore, pay particular attention to several ways in which project leaders differ from change leaders:

  • Project leaders focus on tasks; change leaders focus on people.
  • Project leaders and change leaders work together to integrate their plans.
  • Change leaders are "people persons" with credibility in the organisation.
  • Team members have a wide range of competencies but add additional value with a specialty.
  • BI projects are iterative; BI change management is constant and ongoing.

Meticulous preparation for BI change is critical to success. This means creating an awareness of the need for and value of change management. Management often underestimates the effort and resources necessary to implement the change. The end result or business outcome of the change must be explicit and clearly communicated to employees, customers, and partners.

Planning includes specific tasks and activities, as well as careful analysis of people management challenges and how to address them. Also, consider that BI projects are different from many technology projects and therefore require special change management considerations. In our recently published report we researched the following key areas of BI organisational change management

  • Identifying who will help make the change
  • Securing a budget to fund and support ongoing change management activities
  • Reaching out to specialists (we reviewed OCM capabilities of top management consulting firms)
  • Making a change management plan
  • Preparing a varied, ongoing communcations plan
  • Developing learning, development and an incentive plan
  • Planning for measuring change management effectiveness

Posted by Boris Evelson

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