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7 reasons BI projects fail – and how to stop yours doing the same

During the coronavirus pandemic business intelligence and data analytics has shown its worth, as the businesses that have responded best to the immense challenges have had accurate data to rely on. They’re not making assumptions based on past behaviour and have been able to adapt and flex quicklyBut before your business rushes into implementing your own BI solution, take a look at some of the reasons BI projects fail, so you can be sure that yours doesn’t do the same.

1. Lack of high-level support 

For major projects or technology deployments to succeed, they need buy-in from the top. That doesn’t just mean getting sign off on the budget and the green light to push ahead, it means true executive support. BI projects need to have objectives and align to a business strategy. Your executive team should understand the direction of the project and how it will benefit all parts of the organisation. Without that input and support your project can soon lose momentum or veer off track completely. A good project manager will ensure that the project runs smoothly and that the executive team are kept well informed and involved.

2. Apathy from the business 

BI projects can all too easily focus on the technology solution rather than the business benefits and this is a sure-fire way to turn people off from the project. Your marketing team doesn’t want to know about the solution, they want to know how it will help them understand how they can use data to get more leads. You need all levels of your business to be engaged with your project, because when it comes to using the solution, they will understand how it can help them and will be keen to get started. Training is also incredibly important, because there is no point deploying a powerful BI solution if your employees aren’t enthusiastic about learning how to use it. Engaged employees will lead to increased usage and better business outcomes.

3. It’s unclear what you want

Business intelligence and data analytics can transform businesses, but you need to be clear how you want it to transform yours. It’s important to dedicate proper time to gathering requirements so you can use them as your North Star throughout the project. As well as being clear about what you want to achieve it’s also important to be realistic, so your stakeholders understand what the project won’t achieve too. This will help you to focus your project and ensure the scope stays in check. It’s always best to ask too many questions than not enough. And make sure that this continues throughout the planning, design, development and on through testing as well.

4. KPI meltdown

All businesses need Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track their progress and understand their successes and failures. But if your business has numerous teams involved in the project you can reach KPI meltdown pretty quickly. There is no need to measure and monitor every KPI under the sun, so try to condense them down to the metrics that are going to help you to turn the dial and achieve your business objectives and do away with the ones that are ‘nice to have’. This will ensure that your BI dashboards are driving your performance instead of confusing your decision making.

5. Unrealistic timescales

We all like to be optimistic and promise the world, but when it comes to BI projects it’s important to be realistic and keep asking yourself and your teams whether you can achieve what you want to in the timeline you have set. No one likes to keep extending a deadline, so spend time analysing everything you need to do and all the possible events that could get in your way. It doesn’t matter whether you opt for a waterfall or agile project methodology, over optimistic timelines will be sure to challenge any project. Be fair to yourself and your teams and you’ll have a much greater chance of success.

6. What’s the story?

Visualising data drives decision making, but a BI dashboard is only one output of a much bigger story. Your BI project will fail if you only focus on the outputs and forget the story of the data that is feeding into it. Your BI dashboards should be your visual aids that help you to tell a powerful story that engages your teams and motivates them to improve business outcomes. Get the storytelling right and your BI project will transform your business.

7. Poor data quality

Your BI solution will only be as good as your data, and this is one of the biggest hurdles that a BI project must overcome. Your BI development team may be responsible for leading the project, but they are not responsible for all the data from numerous teams around the business. It’s vital that data is cleansed and accurate before it feeds into the BI solution and that means spending quality time with your data controllers to ensure they are playing their part.

/James Sharp, Managing Director, Climber BI

Get in touch!

At Climber, we have helped hundreds of businesses to implement BI projects that successfully inform decision making and drive business outcomes. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you.

James Sharp

Managing Director
+44 203 858 0668

Alex Booth

Business Development Manager
+44 203 858 0668

Published 2021-09-10

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