The Caremark BI Method
Be Clear and Be Brave - Create Reports!
- Be clear to EVERYONE, VERY CLEAR, to set the correct expectations, that REPORTS will be delivered QUICKLY, targeted sets of REPORTS in each iteration that will be our proof of concept and proof that we can succeed!
- It is critical to start delivering some reports. If we spend all that initial time interviewing and dragging through the mud, we lose attention, energy, focus and we ultimately go down the tubes!
- This may go against the grain, according to the "experts", but remember, many more BI Projects fail than succeed. Following SDLC waterfall development ideologies (etc) will lead to unemployment!
- Be CLEAR that we are focusing on incrementally producing reports. These reports are NOT YET PRODUCTION READY! We are NOT spending the time, at this juncture, to put the ETL plumbing in place that we know will be needed to make our reporting/analysis system timely, accurate and reliable. Again, if we DO spend all our time on these components of our system, we will not be able to SHOW what we can do! No one cares about this plumbing, although it is so necessary! Be BRAVE and make this pronouncement LOUD and CLEAR! Repeat it as often as needed. We are here to SUCCEED!
Never, Ever, Ever, Deliver Reports With Bad Data! (aka Source Data Is UGLY!)
- This is a tough one BUT the prototype reports, even when we're being extremely loud, clear and brave, will make it into the hands of a number of managers and executives. There's an EXCITEMENT!! They're SEEING STUFF they have wanted to see for a long time! This is good, real good! They will start asking for more...more...more. This is a far better problem than them pulling the plug and telling us to hit the streets, BUT we have to manage the situation, to constantly remind everyone that we also need to ensure this will grow into a robust, timely and accurate system.
- While creating the initial report revisions, you will uncover all kinds of issues with the raw data. It is very difficult to keep "bad" data from creeping in but it is essential to make every effort to do so.
- No matter what we say, when executives (who are incredibly adept at immediately identifying wrong numbers in reports) do spot egregious errors, you are likely to lose their trust for good.
- Team members who are skilled at QA'ing reports and data are essential. The more skilled eyes on reports, the better.
- Be SMART and create repeatable regression tests and run them ALL after every report revision is created. Work HARD to catch and exterminate bugs!
- In our experience, detection of and resolution of source data issues and anomolies will be one of the most time consuming segments of the project. The concept of "Self Service BI" for anything other than one-off type reports or perhaps for managing your candy store, belies the fact that source data is almost always "ugly" and requires skilled evaluation and processing.
More Teams Talk
- For any effort beyond ad hoc report generation, you do really need a team.
- Team size should be JUST the number and the talents you need! No more! Smaller teams are much more effective than just throwing bodies at the effort. Again, time to be brave here and press for what is needed. You've heard the saying "if 1 developer can finish in 30 days, 30 developers can finish in 1 day". BS! Be brave...Caremark can help you, let us be brave WITH YOU!
- You WILL need database expertise so don't fool yourself that you don't. Caremark can help here for sure!
- You WILL need ETL expertise. Again, Caremark can help here as well. It's quite possible your database expertise may also serve as your ETL expertise.
- You WILL need those Excel Pro Analysts full time and they are crucial team members! He/she/they should be able to drive quite a bit of the project. Picking the most meaningful and achievable reports as the project moves along, providing important business context to the rest of the team, participating in the CRUCIAL QA of reports and finally, getting more time to actually anaylze the data!
- Team members are needed FULL TIME on the effort. Grabbing bits and pieces of people, as they do their "real" work, is a common mistake and a big contributor to BI Project failures.
- So, we're saying that the "Team" can be small, but needs the proper skilled and experienced members. Caremark can help you build your team AND can provide talent for any missing expertise and experience.