BI projects aren’t just for the big fishes in the sea anymore; the technology has developed rapidly, the software has become more accessible while business intelligence and analytics projects implemented in various industries regularly, no matter the shape and size, small businesses or large enterprises. With the help of an online data analysis tool, these kinds of projects have become easy to manage and agile in performance.
But sometimes, they can also be tricky: it’s not just pushing one button and expecting your business intelligence to fly over a rainbow. To truly harness the power of a successful BI project, companies must develop a solid plan of action and in this post, we will provide the top tips for developing and executing analytics and BI projects with the help of BI tools, followed by business intelligence examples from different industries. Ultimately, this will bring a solid level of understanding and indispensable potential that business users could implement in their own working environment. From Fortune 100 companies to small business owners, BI tools and technology are becoming the standard to oversee historical, present, and future data of business operations. But what makes these projects successful and what to look out for? We will cover this question, and much more, but first, let’s start with a bit of background.
What Is A BI Project?
A BI (business intelligence) project is a term used to describe the planning, assessment, development, and implementation of business intelligence in a company, mainly BI tools that will help managers to solve business problems and derive actionable insights.
These projects require cooperation between various company’s processes, technology objectives, and data while contributing to set business goals, usually defined by a detailed business intelligence strategy.
Top Tips To Create A Modern BI & Analytics Project
To get started on this journey and ensure maximum value is generated in the long-run, here are the top 10 tips to successfully create a BI project.
1. Create a solid BI implementation project plan
It is of utmost importance to create a compact BI project plan that you can refer to periodically and track your progress. When conducting business intelligence projects, the more information you gather at your starting point, the better control you will have during the process. That said, you need to translate strategies into specific operational statements and plans in order to answer all your data problems and improve efficiency. In practice, that could mean answering questions such as:
- How much time do we spend into reporting processes?
- Do we need a tool that will be used by the whole company or specific departments? How will it affect it?
- Who will be responsible for the BI project implementation?
- What are the desired outcomes?
These are just some of the business intelligence project ideas that you can adjust based on your specific business requirements. In the next steps, you will go into more detail but the foundation needs to be well-structured in order to avoid potential bottlenecks. As mentioned, gathering as much information as possible beforehand will ensure that you have a steady BI project management flow and anticipate potential pitfalls. It would also make sense to keep in mind that outcomes line up with reality and that you have enough agile BI resources to adjust the process where needed. While you can't predict the future, you would need to know how to adapt.
2. Define goals and objectives
In correlation with the planning processes, defining your endgame, and setting the right KPIs will create success. While there are numerous KPI examples you can choose from, only a few of them will help you answer specific business questions. If you work in finance, financial analytics will be the backbone of your operations. On the other hand, if you’re in the HR industry, then an HR dashboard could be the best answer you’re looking for. The essential element in this step is to be able to answer in what way your company or organization makes business decisions, and how the quality of these decisions is measured. Another useful advice is to start small; you have to walk before you can run.
3. Consult with key stakeholders
It's critical to involve stakeholders since you need to identify the specific needs and wants, and how they will use the data to generate actionable insights. A thorough analysis of each department's stakeholders can save you a lot of time in future processes and make or break success in your projects in business intelligence.
Involve relevant stakeholders and answer questions such as who will work with the BI? Is it intended for analysts, C-level executives, or department managers? You can also conduct interviews and ask each relevant person directly to avoid communication issues between departments after the project and online BI tools are already implemented. This kind of structure will ensure proper foundation so later you won’t have to face pitfalls and misinterpreted information.
4. Keep in mind your team and budget
Even in traditional projects, getting the right team on board can be quite challenging. Technical expertise is not enough, each member needs to provide industry-specific knowledge, therefore, give yourself some extra time in order to identify quality candidates and ensure your BI implementation project plan ticks the right boxes.
Document the responsibility and resources needed, plan the engagement of the stakeholders and bring specialists onboard such as data analysts, business analysts, subject matter experts, or ETL developers, depending on the size and scope of the project.
Project roles and responsibilities will differ depending on the company, but here is the rundown of some business intelligence project tips to keep in mind:
- Identify the project budget before implementing BI solutions
- Determine the project resources and staffing requirements
- Include the specific responsibilities of each team member
5. Clear the clutter and define a timeframe
After you have established your plan and defined goals, it is time to clear all the information clutter and define a timeframe. To be able to fully reap the rewards that an analytics project and BI can deliver to your organization, it is not just significant to own the KPI management process. By now, you should have already identified business questions you need to answer, and it’s time to get your hands dirty. As the old saying goes, timing is everything, so make sure you develop a schedule for implementing and approving all the relevant processes. Do you need one month or six months to finish the project and start using the BI tool? If you’re confronting setbacks, it might be useful to engage with additional business intelligence consulting to be on the safe side.
6. Step back from the computer
Once you've done your research, identified critical business questions, gathered a team, and defined your timeframe, it's essential to start ideating your BI dashboards.
To get a clearer picture of a project in BI, you need to implement dashboards as a critical component that needs consideration and thoughtful development. Stepping back from the computer and drafting essential dashboard elements should be one of the business intelligence project steps that will give you a wider perspective and mockup for modeling the dashboard based on project scope and needs.
Additionally, it might make sense to create a project management dashboard in order to keep your future monitoring processes at hand and up-to-date, but in this step, it's important to draft and visualize elements that you want to implement. That way, you will have a clearer understanding of what to expect and how to deal with the technicalities, tools that you will be using, and people that you need to communicate with. We can't stress enough how preparation is key and if you do it right and detailed today, you will reap great rewards tomorrow.
7. Concentrate on technicalities
At this stage, you have developed your plan, set the timeframe, identified, and communicated with relevant stakeholders, and now it’s time to choose the right dashboard tool. Since every project initiative is different, it would be wise to establish a framework on what you need from a tool. What kind of database you’re currently working with and do you need various data connectors to unite all your flat files, databases, marketing analytics, social media, etc. Working with the right partner that can deliver all your requirements is an invaluable choice and you should be able to choose based on your budget and scope of the project. Keep in mind that BI and analytics projects are business programs in their core. You will need the help of the IT department, but the “business first” perspective will make your life easier and focus on the big picture.
8. Implement your BI solution and measure success
Our final tip to develop a proper BI and analytics project focuses on the implementation and measuring the success of your initiative. It is often hard to evaluate and quantify the level of success of utilizing a BI solution, but a simple calculator as shown below can provide you with an idea of how much you can save each year:
To see the full scope of the calculation, you can visit our business reporting page.
9. Work on a support and training system
As we will see in our business analytics project examples below in the article, training is necessary to develop relevant training and support systems in order to familiarize each member of the team with new enterprise applications and technologies, if you happen to develop an enterprise BI project. As we mentioned, a BI implementation project plan needs to be well researched, correctly analyzed, but the support and training are equally important. This stage needs to be carefully addressed because, even if you happen to have the best team and managers on board, if they don't have proper training knowledge and technical support, the project won't be utilized fully and you could misinterpret the right amount of capacity needed that will lead to poor decision-making processes.
In this case, no matter if you utilize a healthcare BI software or compile a selection of data science tools for your data team, the important notion to keep in mind is that each person must know what they're doing and what kind of goals they are trying to reach. That way, you have e better chance that your business intelligence project implementation plan works seamlessly, efficiently, and with relevant support systems in place.
10. Finally, communicate regularly
We have mentioned several times how it's important to interview relevant stakeholders, gather the best possible team, and plan your project on business analytics thoroughly. Between these steps, it's important to communicate regularly in order to diminish any doubts or miscommunication risks that could jeopardize your plan and implementation process. Asking for regular feedback at the beginning, in between, and at the end is important as much as choosing the right tool for the job. Regular meetings, answering questions, or simply asking for help when developing digital dashboards, is essential in order to achieve success.
Besides, empowering users by letting them express their opinions in the planning and development of the project will ensure a healthy communication exchange, critical in succeeding in both business intelligence mini-projects as well as bigger ones.
To summarize, your business intelligence and analytics projects need detailed planning, the best tools that correspond to your business (and project) scope, and clear strategic and operational communication within the team and with stakeholders.
We have answered the question what is a BI project, provided a roadmap of tips you need to follow in order to successfully implement such initiatives, and now we will focus on real-life business intelligence projects examples and templates that made companies’ processes more productive, saved costs, and increased efficiency.
Real-Life BI Projects Examples And Templates
Here are shining examples of real-life business scenarios in which a BI and analytics project is used to improved efficiency, productivity, and enabled smarter decision-making processes in their operational and strategic efforts.
1. US-based financial services provider
- Real-time access to vast amounts of data
- Fast implementation
- Availability to all managers
- Maximum security and data privacy
- Reducing the reporting time
- Reducing IT involvement
- Decentralizing the decision-making processes from one person to 10
Facing the challenges of poor data quality, dispersed through a number of spreadsheets and databases, this financial company was unable to track financial data in real-time and generate valuable insights needed to ensure their vendor payment, managed by the accounts payable department, is accurate and fast. They have already experienced a few business disputes and wanted to avoid such scenarios in the future. Additionally, they wanted more control over their working capital and the cash conversion cycle data in order to increase management productivity and operations.
After deciding to implement a business analytics project with the help of a data dashboard, their efficiency skyrocketed. We can also see below a visual business intelligence project template which can be used in any finance department or company:
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The final result was reducing the time of comprehensive financial reporting processes, automating calculations, and gaining access to data in a single, central location. A testament to the supremacy of using a financial dashboard to enhance internal performance.
2. Human resource department in a corporate setting
- Improving recruitment methods
- Self-service access to information
- Multidimensional analysis
- Automating processes
- A comprehensive view of the entire recruitment process
- Performance of the team should be tracked on a weekly basis
- Providing a foundation for weekly meetings
This is one of our business intelligence projects examples that expound on the HR level in a corporate setting in the US. The company struggled with its recruitment funnel and didn’t have up-to-date information on the costs, turnover rates, and top performing agents that can share their knowledge and educate the rest of the team. The final BI project template looked similar to this visual:
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The manager gained a clear, birds-eye view of the department’s performance and crucial HR KPIs that provide instant insights through the employment of a powerful BI solution. Their reporting process was time-consuming and employees were facing challenges with weekly meetings when they needed to provide accurate data and deliver fast responses. By utilizing a comprehensive HR dashboard, every stakeholder had an interactive visual which they could access any time, from any device, and decrease the amount of time needed to generate HR reports. The automation of the reporting process enabled more efficient time management which employees could use to perform other relevant HR tasks.
Another testament to the power of using HR analytics tools.
3. Sales department distributed over multiple continents
- Consolidating data across 3 continents
- Real-time access to information
- Scalable infrastructure based on the company's growth
- Easy and fast integration with Salesforce
- Data is spread across multiple sources
- Combining data to develop a live dashboard
- Overview of multiple sales touchpoints and entire sales funnel
Another business analytics project example comes from a disparate sales department that needed a centralized point of access for their sales opportunity management as well as the possibility to drill-down into each sales chart when questions arise. Before creating a BI project plan template, the team used traditional means of managing massive volumes of data such as static spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Issues arose when the company grew and the team became disparate - manual work cost them countless hours and affected the quality of managing most promising leads in the funnel.
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The sales dashboard was developed with all the requirements in mind, and more. The regional and country managers have gained the possibility to drill into details of important metrics such as the number of current opportunities, purchase value, lost opportunities, or churn reasons. The details of the latest opportunities enable managers to examine the status of opportunities by sales reps, country, company, and see if any comments were made by the team.
This is one of the BI project examples that was implemented fast and efficient although the provider had to consolidate data from multiple continents. Finally, the possibility to connect a Salesforce dashboard and manage data from this popular CRM solution enabled the team to create a more productive working environment and analyze data no matter the time or location.
As you can see, managing business intelligence software project doesn't have to be complicated or demanding. With the right preparation, tools, and team, companies can now create BI project templates and adjust each departmental requirement separately while staying on budget and use the knowledge for future projects. Our business intelligence project plan examples show exactly how and you can use it as a roadmap for building your own BI success.
It’s Your Turn!
To summarize, here are the top tips for creating a successful BI project:
- Create a solid BI project plan
- Define goals and objectives
- Clear the clutter and define a timeframe
- Concentrate on technicalities
- Implement your BI solution and measure success
Now that we have provided BI projects examples and templates that professionals and managers can use for their own purposes. Creating business analytics projects through self service BI and by following our tips and leveraging these examples to your advantage can create a much more stable business and better performance level. To see it in practice, you can start creating your own projects with our BI tool, for a 14-day trial, completely free!