Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success

Ina Felsheim

IT culture has largely been established around the high demands of enterprise reporting and self-service BIcorporate dashboards. These demands have inspired IT to set up strict rules for governance, policies, and security.

Enterprise reporting has also helped drive the creation of new assets, like semantic descriptions, or universes. From one universe to fifty universes…these new assets have proliferated, providing a layer of understanding and translation over the cryptic models and field names.

Business has started to get used to being able to access data…no longer does decision-making need to be a shot in the dark. The appetite for data has grown so that business now has many, many requests for new reports, new fields, and new dashboards. With so many rules and requests, IT has struggled to keep up.

One customer told me that it took them a full year to add a single new field to a single report. Yes, they were in a highly regulated industry, so many rules were in place. But one year! No wonder business developed, and I quote, a “white-hot hate of IT!” IT understood that one year was too long, so they started a rigorous Kaizen process to radically reduce the wait which they did—by 50%! The bad news is that 50% still means a six-month wait to add a field. Yikes.

Always looking to improve, this customer saw this as an opportunity for IT. Yes, an opportunity. And he’s absolutely right. He chose to redefine the IT / business relationship in the following ways:

  • Become more of a strategic partner with business. This partnership means actively defining what business will need next before they explicitly ask for it. Understand their use cases and top priorities—and how their staff wants to work—to make sure that you have solutions that can work for business.
  • Create a data sandbox of enterprise, curated sources that business has easy, understandable access to. The data sandbox must also allow users to easily blend these enterprise sources with personal or departmental sources—even external social sources.
  • Establish policies around security and user access to the data sandbox. With all those business users accessing and playing with your enterprise data, you need to make sure that there are solid, scalable models for user access and security. For example, only the right people should be able to see HR data. Maybe certain regions can see the sales figures for only their region.
  • Provide easy training videos for using visualization tools, as well as how to access the enterprise data and blend it. You can always share these SAP training videos, too.
  • Commit to more frequent upgrades of BI tools. No longer can you just upgrade your enterprise environments every two years. New features are being added rapidly—SAP Lumira releases at least four times a year! Business needs access to new features at least twice a year.
  • Provide a “support desk” for regular users to ask questions that go beyond self-service videos and YouTube. This support desk can publish FAQs, but it should also provide an email account where users can send questions (staffed with super users and a member of your BI Competency Center). Then use some BI on those questions quarterly to see if there are any trends to the questions users are asking.
  • Partner with your information governance organization to highlight what data elements should be more tightly governed, share the data policies that are already written, and publish data quality scores so business knows which data to trust.

Next week, I’ll talk about another bit of education to provide to your business users: when “good” is indeed good enough.

Is simplification part of your business’s long-term strategy? Read These 5 Tips Will Simplify Your Workplace.

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