I have long thought that BI programs exist in the delicate ecosystem of your organization. You remember those visuals of ecosystems from 4th grade? It included the water, soil, plants, air, sun, etc. Well, there are corollaries for BI and if any of these are disturbed or missing you will likely find it challenging to deliver high quality BI content. So, what the heck do I actually mean? Well, let’s start with this visual:
Because all of us have lots of data it is represented as the water. It could be bad, and it goes where it wants to. Architecture is represented as the soil, because good architecture is foundational and so is our soil. Then the others are placed because of how they work within the ecosystem. So, governance is born out of the combination of the Data and Architecture, closely related to metadata. Reports and Analysis encompass the governance and must use all aspects of the ecosystem to survive. Your customers are the sun, because without them we don’t exist and your users are the rain, because you need it to thrive. Finally executives are included as ‘disturbances’, you could also list this as anything that can be disturbing to the delicate balance of your BI program. For example, the BI reporting tool that you really like was recently acquired by a large software conglomerate.
So, how does this help you with your BI program? The analogy is helpful as a framework. Sometimes understanding the broader impact of something gets missed because you’re too busy doing the heads down work. It’s important to understand that BI doesn’t exist in an isolated environment. No BI program is an island. Just like our ecosystem there is an impact if any piece of it is missing, increases or decreases.
Let’s look at an example, for illustrative purposes. Let’s say that you are creating your EDW in the absence (or with very little input) from your users. What happens? There will be a direct impact on the reports and analysis that you provide, because without the feedback from users you won’t know what data to include so you’ll likely miss something. Of course, the opposite situation is that you let your users completely run your project and overwhelm you with requirements for data that will never be used and your architecture, governance and metadata is flooded with too much data to be managed.
There are a million other ways to think about this analogy. The important thing as you continue with your BI program is to understand that you must strike a balance to maintain equilibrium.
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