With the harsh reality that 80% of corporate BI project failBI user adoption should be one of the main drivers in your BI strategy. It is important to not just have the right tools but the right talent and processes to ensure maximum return on your BI investment. The main objective of a BI audit is to develop a detailed recommendation of a BI strategy, architecture, roadmap and an overall alignment to your business objectives. 

To ensure a high user adoption for your BI implementation or transformation, it is important to have access to the right people and ask the right questions. The BI audit helps to assess the company's BI maturity level and getting these questions answered will help to steer the project and ensure success.The time-frame can be divided into two phases with phase one ranging from two to four weeks where the initial assessment and question and answer sessions are held with key business users and stakeholders. Phase two can take anywhere from two to three weeks for comprehensive results and recommendation documentation. Overall, the BI Audit can take a month to two months but the time frame can be shortened or lengthened depending on scope, availability of stakeholders, access to necessary information, among other things.

We have created a BI Audit Framework (PAUSE) that helps individuals undertaking BI projects or conducting an assessment of a BI environment to ensure project success and increase user adoption. The key areas of focus for the BI audit are: project, accessibility, users, strategy, and environment.

 

Project

Chances are most companies will have a project plan or at least an idea of what they want to accomplish. It is always good to find out if there is a documented scope, layout and architecture for the BI project. Are there any targeted delivery dates and previous commitment made that you will need to factor in your recommendations and timelines. You will need to find out the allocated budget for the project and who will be the main contact person and who are the project sponsors and key stakeholders. Establish a clear idea of the technical team structure as you will rely on them for any technical questions that cannot be handled by business users.

 

Accessibility

With the heavy reliance on mobile devices and on the go access to BI, it is important to know the type of mobile devices that will access these BI platforms, such as smartphones (Android, iOS, BB) and tablets. You also need to make note of browsers that are currently being used across the business (versions, types). You will also need to do planning for future accessibility needs of the organisation and what tools will be needed to support this strategy.

 
Users
 
Finding out about the users who will need access to the BI platform is crucial in understanding how security and user restrictions will impact the company's BI implementation. You will need to know the size of the company, how many locations and countries they operate in and how many users will access these systems. Having an understanding of the user requirements in the current environment is also helpful in future planning and designing. 
 
 
Strategy
 
Here you will have to ask the tough question surrounding corporate data strategy and find out if there is any consideration towards an enterprise data governance strategy. You need to determine what are the key business problems that need to be solved and what decisions need to be made with the business data. If the company has a BI roadmap, is it still relevant or will it need to be updated. Now there is no getting around the main strategic driver, namely your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). There must be a conversation regarding executive and business user requirements and KPIs and they should be properly defined, documented and visible to all stakeholders.
 
 
Environment

Now we get into the nitty-gritty of our BI audit as we examine the environment to determine what BI software the company is using for reporting, data warehousing, dashboards, data mining and analytics. You will need to take note of data sources, how many exist, different types etc. If there are architectural documents then ensure you review and ask questions to get clarification. Some companies have multiple legacy systems and other ERPs and software that you need to report from. You will need a comprehensive list of existing business systems and be sure to document what is available and any limitations.
 
Applying the P.A.U.S.E technique in your BI audit will improve your chances of project success and help to feed into the company's goal of high user adoption and return on their BI investment. There is no secret formula to success but starting here will give you a clearer path to achieving your BI vision and may just save your company a million dollar trip to the BI project graveyard. Just like a game of chess, sometimes you have to PAUSE, assess where you are and then strategically plan your next BI move
 

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About the author: Raquel Seville [@quelzseville] is a Business Intelligence Professional, SAP Mentor, BI Evangelist, Founder: exportBI | Co-Founder: eatoutjamaicaTo find out more, please visit her about me page.

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