When I’m in a sales call discussing a potential BI solution we generally talk for hours about business processes and the current technology environments. More often than not, I am asked by the potential client in some form or fashion “what do you see as the biggest challenge in solving our BI problems?” Most of the time my answer is that the biggest challenges they will face are organizational.
A lot of times this answer is a surprise. But there are three things the leadership who wants to institute an information transformation often doesn’t know (I’m relying heavily on metaphors to make my point):
- That report that Marge in Accounting spends 30 hours a week doing makes her feel important.
- Don’t be fooled by how much Marge gripes about doing this report. Griping about it is her favorite part of the job.
- Because Marge is very vocal, Marge’s bad feelings can spread to other people within the organization, many of whom you are counting on to make the solution successful.
Now I don’t mean to pick on Marge. Change is threatening to a lot of people. Just because she is afraid of change or getting into technology that may not be in her comfort zone doesn’t mean she can’t still play an important part in your organization. The key is to have a plan. Here are just a few of the things I generally recommend to help you prepare for the organization “ripple effect” that a successful BI solution can create:
- As always, due diligence during the discovery process can be just as critical to organizational success as it is to technical delivery. When you approach your subject matter experts its important not just understanding what information is critical to them, but what a day or week in their life is like. This way you can start to anticipate how effective BI delivery will impact what they do.
- As you conduct envisioning sessions, focus hard on the “before and after” view with an ROI that takes into account both dollars AND hours. Make sure client leadership knows every likely way that data can be accessed and delivered, and what kind of effort it took before that will no longer be needed.
- Involve HR early. HR can help with messaging and make sure that it is compliant with both corporate and legal policy. They also generally have a full corporate view and might have suggestions on how employees can be utilized in other parts of the company if a substantial amount of what they do has been eliminated by the solution.
- I recommend a deep assessment of your current BI team. Make sure you understand not only what skills they currently possess but what their potential would be to learn new skills quickly.
- Finally, appropriate some amount of your consultant dollars to organizational effectiveness. For example, Slalom Dallas has an Organizational Effectiveness practice that specializes in helping companies utilize their organizations talent, training and recruiting to execute in all critical business initiatives, and many of our clients have taken advantage of this capability for their technology projects.
There is a lot more to talk about when it comes to BI and Organizational Change, which is why I have created an entire category for it. I will expand on many of these challenges and solutions in the future.