Prioritising business intelligence projects

Key Points

  • Prioritise stakeholders who are naturally welcoming of change in early projects
  • Avoid large or complex data sets or scalability challenges
  • Pick projects that play to the technology strengths of the team

When you first start implementing your business intelligence strategy you should pick your projects carefully. Quick wins will build confidence and maintain sponsorship.

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Prioritising business intelligence opportunities

We should prioritise low risk, short projects, that increase our BI capability. A project is more appealing if it helps us drive the objectives for each of the three pillars of the BI strategy. The following sections align to the articles in this series, each one influencing our capability to acquire and mix the ingredients of the business intelligence cocktail.

Process improvement – stakeholder availability and engagement 

Some users are early adopters of new practices whilst others are more sceptical of change, preferring to see concrete benefits before altering their working practices. A stakeholder who is predisposed to risks and new opportunities is more likely to ride out the inevitable teething problems of a new solution, without undermining confidence by advertising issues to the rest of the organisation.

Data – available data 

If the data is difficult or time-consuming to obtain, then better to leave the challenge until the team has undergone a few BI solution iterations. There are enough challenges in seemingly straightforward solutions without adding known ones into the mix. Data should become increasingly available as the organisation’s data strategy gathers momentum. Until that time, it is best to pick the low hanging fruit.

Technology – BI technology familiarity

Projects that play to the technical strengths of team members are clearly less risky. If the BI specialist has greater experience in ETL than dashboard design, then a project aimed at analyst users – where you can deploy an ad hoc analysis tool with minimal front-end design – is more likely to succeed than one for senior managers.

Project duration

3 – 4 weeks is the maximum duration I would advise for each project in an immature BI program. At the end of the project, there should be tangible benefits to users. We should de-scope or delay a project with a longer anticipated duration, until we have had a chance to assess the outcome of shorter projects.


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