Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time
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Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time. An opinion piece prepared by Quintin Strydom.

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Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

An opinion piece prepared by

Quintin Strydom


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

This presentation will attempt to displace some of the fallacies surrounding the traditional implementation approach of Business Intelligence systems and provide an alternative more pragmatic suggestion


It is common knowledge that each bi implementation is unique or is it

It is common knowledge that each BI implementation is unique... or is it?

6

1

Reporting

5

2

ERP

Collection

4

3

Data sources

Page


Fallacy 1 business users know what they want the bi system to tell them

Fallacy 1 - Business users know what they want the BI system to tell them

  • Industry experience

    • A Business Intelligence system, when sold, is a “blank slate”, only with additional development does it deliver any value to business users

    • Implementers ask their clients “What do you want the system to tell you” only to receive the following question back “but what can the system tell me”

    • Users don’t know what they don’t know

    • A long and tedious process of negotiating about what the system should include (taking a significant amount of time)

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • Business Intelligence project takes a lot of time

    • Business Intelligence projects take a lot of “additional” investment

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems cannot deliver on the promised value

Page


Fallacy 1 business users know what they want the bi system to tell them1

Fallacy 1 - Business users know what they want the BI system to tell them

  • How could this be done differently

    • Is the reduction of user expectations the only route

      • That’s life if you want a Business Intelligence system

    • So if we can’t reduce expectations how do we improve perception of delivery?

      • Give the clients what they want

        • Information and reports that are immediately available

        • The cost of the project must be fixed, not a moving target

        • The information must support the business decisions that they need to make

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Fallacy 2 each company s reporting requirements are unique

Fallacy 2 - Each company’s reporting requirements are unique

  • Industry experience

    • Business users are required to articulate their requirements, this takes time

    • The business requirements document is interpreted, often incorrectly, by the Business Intelligence systems developer, leads to more time wasting

    • In the first draft of the system the user requirements are not met completely, at this stage the developer admits that some of the simple business requirements cannot be done

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • Business Intelligence projects wastes time

    • Business Intelligence projects are frustrating

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems cannot deliver on the promised value

Page


Fallacy 2 each company s reporting requirements are unique1

Fallacy 2 - Each company’s reporting requirements are unique

  • How could this be done differently

    • Most large organisations have an ERP system in place to serve as a transactional data collector

    • Most large ERP systems dictate business processes

      • Procurement (Contract, purchase request, purchase order, invoice, payment)

      • Sales (Sales order, invoice, payment, credit note)

    • Surely all this communality can lead to largely standardised Business Intelligence system

    • Although focus areas may change the basics stay the same

But stop… we have a problem


Fallacy 3 business intelligence solutions are about functionality and features

Fallacy 3 - Business Intelligence solutions are about functionality and features

  • Industry experience

    • Traditional Business Intelligence products are sold as buckets of features and functionality

    • Even so called industry standard content is limited to functionality and data reporting rather than real decision support

    • Is this not a situation of the tail wagging the dog

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • The Business Intelligence application sits on the shelf for 12 months

    • Only selected people in the organisation can use it

    • Business Intelligence projects wastes time

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems cannot deliver on the promised value

Page


Fallacy 3 business intelligence solutions are about functionality and features1

Fallacy 3 - Business Intelligence solutions are about functionality and features

  • How could this be done differently

    • Solutions should have pre-developed content available in those business processes that are standard in your organisation

    • Your Business Intelligence provider MUST be able to bridge the gap between IT and Business Decision making

    • Firstly actual information and then only fancy features

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Fallacy 4 each erp implementation is unique in terms of the processes that are implemented

Fallacy 4 - Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the processes that are implemented

  • Industry experience

    • ERP implementation will typically follow this process

      • “Brown Paper” the current business processes

      • Blueprint the “ideal” business processes and calculate the gap

      • Then implement as prescribed by the ERP as per “best practice”

    • This means legacy business processes are almost bullied out of the business and replaced by a standard “best practice”

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • Because of the “unique” nature of each implementation standardised Business Intelligence content is NOT possible!!

    • ERP implementations reduce the amount of management information readily available

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems can only deliver on the promised value over time

Page


Fallacy 4 each erp implementation is unique in terms of the processes that are implemented1

Fallacy 4 - Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the processes that are implemented

  • How could this be done differently

    • ERP implementations lead to standard business processes in most areas

    • This means that similar building blocks exist for business decisions that should be made to manage these process

    • Should my Business Intelligence provider not be able to give me at least some standarised reports

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 5 - Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the technical structures that are implemented

  • Industry experience

    • ERP implementers have a standard roadmap or template to manage their implementations

    • Although industry offering might differ from a content point of view, the business process and technical structures are very similar e.g. all SAP implementations have a vendor master data table called LFA1

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • No standard or re-usable reporting can be done

    • New mapping must be done for each Business Intelligence system/ERP system combination

    • The result is the perception that Business Intelligence systems can only deliver on the promised value over time

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 5 - Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the technical structures that are implemented

  • How could this be done differently

    • All ERP implementation have configuration, master and transactional data

    • In order to standardise development, naming conventions are always the same

    • Within these, the table structures are 90% similar between various ERP implementations

    • The rules may differ but the structures stay the same

    • Does this not mean that my “customised” ERP is more standard than my IT guys say?

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Fallacy 6 linkages between the erp data structures and the reporting requirements are always unique

Fallacy 6 - Linkages between the ERP data structures and the reporting requirements are always unique

  • Industry experience

    • Business Intelligence implementations typically take ages to finalise at this stage

    • Business users would often find out that the information requested cannot be provided due to ERP systems limitations

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • Business Intelligence projects wastes time

    • Business Intelligence projects cost more money

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems cannot deliver on the promised value

Page


Fallacy 6 linkages between the erp data structures and the reporting requirements are always unique1

Fallacy 6 - Linkages between the ERP data structures and the reporting requirements are always unique

  • How could this be done differently

    • Will overdue goods receipts reporting not always include PO number, required date, delivered quantity and ordered quantity (Same for invoice, payment etc)

    • The data for the overdue goods receipts reporting will always lie in the same tables for Oracle/SAP

    • If you know what you want to report, these links can be pre-built to speed up Business Intelligence solution delivery

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 7 - Data structures of the ERP will always limit the reporting capability of BI solutions based on the ERP data

  • Industry experience

    • Most ERP specific Business Intelligence solutions have standard reporting cubes

    • These cubes are by nature limited to the data structures of the underlying ERP

    • E.g. your Business Intelligence consultant will tell you that you cannot measure the cycle times from the release of a PR to the payment of an invoice

    • ERP systems can at best do transactional level reporting for its users but cannot string multiple information element together to support business decisions

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 7 - Data structures of the ERP will always limit the reporting capability of BI solutions based on the ERP data

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • The user must try to “connect the dots” by lashing together a bunch of ERP outputs to get to the data that will support the business decision

    • Business Intelligence projects are frustrating

    • Business Intelligence projects wastes time

    • This results in the perception that Business Intelligence systems cannot deliver on the promised value

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 7 - Data structures of the ERP will always limit the reporting capability of BI solutions based on the ERP data

  • How could this be done differently

    • Business Intelligence tools should “fish” for the correct data elements across ERP’s, ERP instances, modules, tables and fields

    • To do this they must inherently understand the business decision that needs supporting

But stop… we have a problem

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 8 - Users must be able to customise their reporting tool to suit their own environment and each environment is unique

  • Industry experience

    • Business Intelligence tools have become so complex that very few people in the organisation can actually use it

      • If that person leaves Business Intelligence also leaves

    • Because of the fact that users can customise to information reported from the Business Intelligence system, no ONE SINGLE VERSION OF THE TRUTH EXISTS

  • Outcome of the fallacy

    • This means that at best Business Intelligence is reserved as a strategic tool and cannot operate at the operational level, where all actions are taken

    • The system doesn’t work!!

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Fallacy 8 - Users must be able to customise their reporting tool to suit their own environment and each environment is unique

  • How could this be done differently

    • 80% of management information required at an operational level is routine

    • Most users want just the information they need to make decisions

    • Business Intelligence can only be successful in organisations if it becomes obtainable at an operational level

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

6

1

In summary… a number of fallacies currently exist in the implementation of Business Intelligence solutions

Reporting

5

2

ERP

Collection

4

3

Data sources

  • Business users know what they want the BI system to tell them

  • Each company’s reporting requirements are unique

  • Business Intelligence solutions are about functionality and features

  • Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the processes that are implemented

  • Each ERP implementation is unique in terms of the technical structures that are implemented

  • Linkages between the ERP data structures and the reporting requirements are always unique

  • Data structures of the ERP will always limit the reporting capability of BI solutions based on the ERP data

  • Users must be able to customise their reporting tool to suit their own environment and each environment is unique

1

1

1

2

2

5

5

6

Displacing these fallacies mean that Business Intelligence solutions CAN deliver value by immediately informing the business decisions

Page


Moving from data to information in a fraction of the time

Reports

Reports

Database/Cubes

Database/Cubes

ERP

ERP

But what is the fundamental change required in the traditional approach used for Business Intelligence solutions development in organisations

Start

Business Decisions

Queries

Queries

Information

Information

Start

Page


Questions

Questions

?


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