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that the customer didn t know what they signed up for or didn t understand what it was we were going to deliver These discussions should be a fact-finding process and a development of a practical BI approach There are other aspects of the project that a meeting of this nature would benefit and allow everyone to flush out questions that may not have been considered by the stakeholders such as basic project type activities and milestones Define report requirements Discuss the requirements gathering process Instead of asking general questions such as Which reports do you want, and what should be in them ask specific questions such as What are you trying to achieve and What are your business goals Explore ad hoc querying This may be an entirely new concept to some customers, and universes (semantic layer for the sources of data for the BOBJ-BI components) that are made available for such ad hoc activity should be designed with the endusers in mind The universes should be easy to use and should cover a particular business process Discuss security Many times the customer is only thinking about data security, which is governed by existing roles and security inside BW However, none of that covers which universes and reports are visible to which users and groups, or which rights a user has in the InfoView portal (component used for business user viewing of reports, very similar to the BI portal) and what actions they can and cannot perform This could mean ad hoc querying, as opposed to only viewing or refreshing reports, but would also include the ability to export report contents or schedule particular reports for their own business area or department Plan scheduling and report distribution Most customers have not yet considered this in detail, so as the consultant, you need to be able to articulate what the options are and how scheduling may help reduce the load on BW during peak hours if a lot of users need to access the same report and information Not every report has to be run interactively, which is a key point to make with customers Discuss report design and visualization (including dashboards) Many things are possible, but the selected approach should be what is best for appropriate information delivery in the given use case On the other hand, those who are most comfortable in BEx might need additional time with all the different possibilities and options available in BOBJ You should have a comprehensive discussion about what makes sense in report design, which metrics comprise good items to display on dashboards, and which ones do not Again, this means that dashboard and report design needs to line up with business goals a novel idea but one that seems to escape many developers as they go through the process of developing these busy dashboards All of these points are still quite tactical However, they will help to set the stage for the project, and in many cases the customers will not understand what they are getting until they see the first reports and dashboards, a point at which it is probably too late to make substantial changes You can mitigate this risk with an upfront rapid scoping session and/or a pilot implementation The advantage to this approach is that, fundamentally, it tends to be business focused rather than IT focused, and it aligns with a simpler implementation Realize, though, that fudged demos on static data can leave customers with an impression
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that the complete implemented solution will be more responsive and faster than is realistic Nevertheless, it can certainly help to provide the customer with a hands-on visualization of what things will look like in a full implementation In all cases, there should be a point to doing business intelligence, just as there was a reason for a customer to invest substantially in products and services to put a BI framework in place That is, BI should be part of a larger business strategy to enable more efficient, consistent, and targeted use of information assets captured in the SAP systems, legacy systems, and other relevant business data A lot of reporting is very tactical, whether it is operational reporting or regulatory and from an industry perspective, that is not really considered Business Intelligence, but rather a simple representation of only its most basic components We need to move the corporation to the next level, which is to encourage further analysis and provide ad hoc querying capabilities beyond a set of standard reports Ideally, though, a BI strategy ties such analysis in with existing or new business processes, where BI plays a role both in discovery (Q&A) and monitoring the effect of policies and business initiatives Most customers will have some sort of BI strategy defined Even exclusively operational reporting will have a thought behind it In many cases it is directly related to a business initiative that is very specific, while in other cases it may be a desire to really change the organization and its business processes It may not be always highly sophisticated, and if that is the case, you should help refine it further and propose a solution based on experience, as well as the customer s business needs Recognize that customer resources will usually have done their research, but may misrepresent certain product features or misunderstand concepts that are very familiar to experienced consultants, so always clarify what they mean with what they say Formulate the strategy and seek approval from the customer Where possible, try to get buy-in for a Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) to make sure there is a group that functions as a guardian of the BI solutions and applications post-implementation The BICC members should not only drive best practices and system governance, but also ensure that the actual implementation aligns with the BI strategy The BICC over time should help refine the strategy and drive it to ever further sophistication We have all seen this process go astray with all of the other system-specific activities around the go-live and the post-golive processes including critical issues with performance, business user additional needs, or just running out of budget or time but please look to drive this effort so that the BW system and the BI concepts can continue to proactively impact the corporation We have to keep in mind the critical position of information within our corporations It is very important that you educate the business user or your customer on using the right tool for the right job, as the wrong choice is more likely to lead to implementations that fall short of the initial success criteria You will have to manage not only which tool is more appropriate, but also the expectations with the customer, and what current product capabilities need to be considered when guiding the tool choice Even if the right choice is made, diverging expectations or lack of support for certain features may still lead to problematic implementations It is also clear, and this is the normal process with all new products, that a number of product changes have been, or are in the process of being enhanced, so all of these elements need to be taken into account when deciding on the right tool for the job at hand The SAP BusinessObjects components have some well-established guidelines on selecting tools based on both the existing customer landscape and business user information or what SAP calls a use case scenario In the process of analyzing the various categories of issues reported by the companies and business users apart from identified certain product issues the analysis shows some classifications that clearly indicate incorrect tool choices, which lead to misaligned expectations of the solution
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