Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
February 29th, 2008

Business Intelligence Strategy definition is typically the first step in an organization’s endeavor to implement BI (Business Intelligence). This phase is very crucial as the overall execution direction hinges on decisions taken in this stage.

The precise approach to the BI Strategy definition includes the following steps:

  1. Business Area Identification – Identify and prioritize the business area(s) for which BI is considered. Ex: Human Resource Analytics, Supply Chain Analytics, Enterprise Performance Analytics etc.
  2. Process Mapping Document – Once the business area is identified, map out the individual processes involved in that particular domain. This can be a simple flow-chart that shows the entry and exit criteria for each sub-process.
  3. Business Questions Enumeration – Based on the subject areas involved in the business domain, enumerate the list of questions that are to be answered by the analytical layer.
  4. Data Elements Segregation – For each of the process steps, identify the data elements. These data elements, after subsequent validation (in conjunction with business questions) would translate into dimensions and facts during the data modeling stage.
  5. Data Visualization – Develop a prototype (set of screenshots) on how the data would be visualized for each business question. Business Analysts and domain experts are typically involved at this stage.
  6. BI Architecture Synopsis – At a fundamental level, BI architecture is fairly straightforward. The architecture is almost always a combination of the following processes: Extraction (E), Transformation (T), Loading (L), Cubing (C), and Analyze (Z). The number of layers, type of reporting etc. are a combination of ETLCZ components. Ex: ETLZ, ETLTLCZ, ELTZ, ELCZ are some options for BI architecture definition.
  7. Next Steps Document – The ‘Next Steps’ document would list down the other requirements of / from the analytical infrastructure. These can be points around Tool Evaluation, User profiles, Data volumes, Performance considerations, etc. Each of these requirements would translate to an assessment to be carried out before the actual construction begins.

The most common mistake is to start thinking about technology aspects before the actual business requirement is finalized. A precise definition of business questions goes a long way in designing a scalable and robust BI infrastructure.

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