The Brightcon BI Governance Framework: 4 keys to success

22 September 2010 | Category: BI Governance
Ad-hoc or project-driven BI management is increasingly questioned this days with regard to the need of controlled BI development – triggered by various factors like pressure to meet demands, cost pressure or scarcity of qualified resources. To the same extent where an increasing professionalism can be observed in Business Intelligence, the question of an optimum “governance“ of all BI-related roles and tasks becomes central.

BI governance establishes a framework of four pillars which enables the company to identify, implement and continuously develop their BI strategy:

1. A central BI governance – as a continuous reflection of the corporate strategy and structure.
The BI governance set-up reflects the corporate structure: In divisional companies, with independent divisions, authority (budget authority, project and program prioritization, resources, BI standards with regard to content, processes, authority of technical standards, internal BI marketing) is spread and held at a divisional level. The more the group level strives for cross-divisional synergies the more BI competences have to be given to the group level. Regardless of the starting point of a company only a clear objective, the outline of responsibilities between corporate divisions and a controlled development path, is relevant.

Attempts to delegate particular BI issues to existing (IT) competence centres with the least possible effort generally proved unsuccessful and lead to a BI technology-related fragmentation within the IT as opposed to the demand side – involving incalculable high costs for the company.

2. A powerful and scalable delivery organisation with a BI sourcing strategy
Only a high-performance and cost-efficient BI service organisation can reach the strategic BI objectives. The BI service organisation governs the BI life cycle and implements end-to-end projects on central strategic BI platforms. The whole delivery is based on a clear understanding of the sourcing (“make or buy“) of specific services. Both the internal vs. the external sourcing and the cooperation with other IT areas are continuously monitored. The delivery organisation covers all required technological, methodical and business domains and proactively develops its competences according to the current and future requirements of the internal clients and the latest technological development of the BI market. The principle of the delivery organisation is: Delivery of all requirements on time, based on central platforms and optimum quality standards for the best possible price.

Conversely, if the project delivery becomes a bottleneck and the quality of the services is considered insufficient or too expensive peripheral parallel organisations outside of the BI technology standards and the central BI management control typically emerge. This quickly results in high costs for the company.

3. A BI operation and support organisation with technology and business expertise
Various considerations prove the BI support to play a crucial role: The BI support organisation can directly influence the skills-level of the end user and thus the company’s value proposition derived from the BI. Additionally, the support organisation is an essential link in the feedback process for expanding and enhancing the BI environment. In order to achieve this it is not sufficient to delegate the BI support to an existing and often cost-optimized and outsourced IT support organisation.

Provided that the support organisation possesses a comprehensive understanding, not only of the technologies, but also of the data, the relationships between pieces of information and consequently of corporate processes, it can really contribute to the end user’s value proposition. Using training and knowledge management measures adapted to the user’s maturity level the knowhow on the users side is continuously being developed, resulting in a reduced need for support.

The BI operation requires a correspondingly high level and a small tolerance threshold: The top management is among the direct clients and the requirements regarding information availability, performance and covering cyclical service peaks requires the implementation of specific operational processes.

This task profile demonstrates, that even in support and operation high requirements are set, which are similar to those of project specialists.

4. A seamless demand-supply function with combined business and IT experts
The continuous demand-supply management is one of the biggest challenges in order to ensure a sustainable success of the BI strategy. Assuming that it is optimally, that is seamlessly set up as an integration function for the business domains and the IT delivery, it will contradict the traditional separation of business and IT and the purely formal SLA management.

The demand-supply interface managers are thus no mere account managers, who often even increase the gap, but they are a business and IT specialist in one person, who speak the right “language” to keep a continuous dialogue with business and IT going. They often also manage projects and offer crucial inputs to the BI strategy. They are able to identify new value proposition potentials in the company by analysing new BI application areas and providing knowledge of the latest technological developments in order to accomplish stakeholder management. They accompany the development until new projects in the company are sufficiently supported, prepared and assessed using ROI techniques.

Experience shows that whenever this function is neglected the central BI management cannot have the required influence on central standards and consequently promote the efficient use of BI.Once more, a few but highly qualified resources are crucial to bridge the interface. These interface resources need to secure the trust of both sides, business as well as IT, and they seldom fit into existing salary structures due to the challenges and the limited development potential so they are often filled externally.

The need to make a decision regarding optimum development and the day-to-day management of these 4 elements is immense and requires experienced BI managers and extensive long-term experience. It is not always the case that the associated change management is equally supported by all the stakeholders of the company. The biggest challenges faced in practice are BI control and demand supply management whereas project delivery and BI operation today have partly reached a certain maturity level.The Brightcon BI-Governance Model allows to assess the maturity level of the BI governance within a short timeframe and to establish a company-specific BI governance framework that can be implemented with minor but path changing decisions and which lives with the company.

We will gladly advise and support you with any questions and tasks regarding strategy-focused Business Intelligence:

Telephone: +41 (0) 44 400 95 01
Author: Stefan Busch, Partner and Management Consultant at Brightcon

Brightcon AG, Switzerland
Tel: +41(0) 44/400 95 01

Brightcon GmbH, Germany
Tel: +49(0) 7 61/4 29 96 49