Want Executive Buy-In? Deliver Quickly!
Somewhat like wars, business intelligence projects can take years and cost millions of dollars. So, how do you be a hero and not a victim?
More than one business intelligence project has been cancelled because management lost interest in spending money on an intangible. Visionary executives understand that BI is a tool to transform the business. They understand the organizational changes they are looking for, including new business processes, and why BI is the path to making those changes.
But, unless you’re working with a visionary sponsor (and the world has desperately few of these), BI is really just a “nice to have” item, not a necessity. There’s a little voice in the back of most sponsor’s heads saying, “My folks do their jobs today without pretty charts & tables, they’ll be able to do their jobs tomorrow without them, too. We all know that most IT projects are big sink holes, maybe that BI project is just another one of them.”
You’ve got to show this kind of executive something they can wrap their head around. Something concrete. Something that demonstrates you’re not wasting time and money. And, you’ve got to show it quickly. Unless you do, your sponsorship could quickly dry up and find some other, more tangible, effort to sponsor.
While you certainly won’t be delivering a complete system with all the bells and whistles, or even with all of the data, I recommend that you push to get a user-accessible deliverable out in under a month. That’s right - prove your value in 4 weeks, or less. And then, after that, keep pushing to upgrade and enhance every month.
Other Benefits of Delivering Quickly
Maintaining sponsor interest is just one of the advantages of pushing out rapid deliverables. Here are some other benefits:
- RETURN ON INVESTMENT: Assuming that you’re actually delivering something of value, why not get a head start on paying for it?
- USER VISUALIZATION: I’ve read that Steve Jobs didn’t believe in asking for user requirements. He felt that his intended users couldn’t really visualize what he had in mind and the only way for them to understand it was to give them the finished product (please excuse me if I bastardized that a bit). Business intelligence is much the same. There are a great number of users who just can’t understand what they’d use the system for until they’re given a real-life example of the tool, with their data in it. Thus, providing them with quick, early deliverables will help them understand what they’ll be getting, also helping them better visualize ways to take advantage of the technology.
- REQUIREMENTS VALIDATION: Sadly, it is possible to create a BI system that just doesn’t provide any value. It’s been done before and it will be done again. Of course, wouldn’t you prefer not to be the one doing it? Given this fact, isn’t there value in quickly getting feedback on whether or not your project is pursuing the right deliverables? Delivering intermediate, partial results will give you this validation.
- MAINTAINING TEAM FOCUS: Finally, big projects frequently get bogged down. But, we all know that nothing motivates like a deadline. Think about how motivated folks in the US get just before April 15 (which reminds me…). Well, use the monthly delivery cycle to set those deadlines.
By the way, if I might gently pitch a Dataspace offering, we’re about to announce a service that will deliver a working business intelligence system at a reasonable fixed price in two weeks or less. If you’re considering BI, this is a great way to get started. Call or email me at benjamin.taub@Dataspace.com if you’d like more information.