Query #1: How can I detect and solve BI “drift” — when my BI project becomes disconnected from the original mission or my agency’s overall goals?
Qlarion has helped a number of agencies whose Business Intelligence initiatives have become disconnected from the original mission.
How do you know when this so called “BI drift” is occurring? Perhaps senior executives have stopped requesting reports. Or you are no longer receiving input from end users on new requirements.
In situations like these, BI can become little more than data in a vacuum, rather than a valuable contributor to better decision-making.
Here are several tips for addressing BI drift.
Causes and Solutions for BI Drift
Business Intelligence initiatives typically become disconnected from the original mission for two primary reasons: (a) Your agency’s overall mission has evolved due to factors outside of your control; and/or (b) The BI initiative has strayed in scope or performance because either the project mission or user requirements have changed.
Here are some examples of each:
a) Changes to Agency Mission – Outside of Your Direct Control: Your BI initiative is on track, but the project or agency’s mission has evolved, due to:
- Changes in the political environment, for example, a new administration or policy shift.
- An external circumstance or event, such as the 9/11 attacks, which resulted in a major realignment of agencies and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. (An excellent recent example is the Obama Administration’s proposed merger of the Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration.)
- Changes in project funding.
Solutions: The goal, of course, is to seek continuous feedback, and the rule is to never be reticent about the type of feedback you get — good, bad or indifferent. Therefore, every three months you should conduct an assessment to see what mission elements or drivers may have shifted. The process Qlarion recommends includes performing an environmental scan and providing an update to your executive sponsors on how your BI initiative is performing against that mission.
b) Disconnect from User Requirements — Under Your Control: The BI initiative is on track, but the project or agency’s mission has evolved, due to one or more of the following:
- Lack of end-user involvement during scope definition.
- End-users’ “day jobs” are keeping them from devoting enough time to your initiative; or end-users’ expectations were not set up front regarding how much of their time is needed.
- End users were consulted initially, but are not being kept in the loop as the BI initiative has evolved.
- Your BI initiative started as a bottoms‐up project that grew into larger project but was never tied to overall mission.
- Changes in your program’s executive sponsor or mission ownership.
- Technical limitations have constrained the initiative’s ability to meet requirements.
- Budget cuts are limiting the initiative’s ability to perform up to expectations.
Solutions: At least every three months, conduct a detailed face-to-face (whenever possible) review with your end users to assess your BI initiative’s relevance and realign when necessary. Additionally, engaging with your program’s executive sponsors and setting expectations with your project’s steering committee are critical to closing any gaps between performance and expectations.
If you think your Business Intelligence initiative may be suffering from “drift,” please consider downloading Qlarion’s Business Intelligence Quotient Assessment, which helps you rate your agency’s BI performance based on 28 detailed questions.