BI Best Practices Business Intelligence

Why BI Projects Tend to Have a High Failure Rate – Ensuring Project Success

BI projects can begin with a simple goal, but can easily go astray. BI work often involves multiple moving parts and actors. These projects can become complex, containing many dependent pieces. Critical decisions made at the wrong level can lead the plan to chaos. Additionally, timelines are sometimes aggressive and don’t fully account for delays. There are many ways that the project can fail, resulting in money wasted, below we will discuss the top three reasons why they tend to fail. Knowing these failure points is a major step toward ensuring BI project success.

Lack of Communication Between IT and Management Risks Your Project’s Success

Miscommunication can often jeopardize project success. It stems from failure to comply with ambiguous requirements involving a project. Thus, abject business outcomes can occur creating a lack of trust in the workplace.

Some examples of miscommunication are…

  • The target isn’t made apparent
  • Insights from the data aren’t clearly stated
  • The users’ wants and expectations aren’t known.

The blame usually falls upon the IT team because of their inability to communicate. Under 10% of IT leaders believe that they effectively communicate with non-IT colleagues.

There can also be fault found in management not promoting effective communication.  For instance, creating dedicated communication activities or displaying the importance of IT communication. Project metrics sometimes aren’t in place, so the expectations aren’t stated. There is also an unrealistic expectation from management that there won’t be delays. Most people don’t work at full capacity every single day of the project. A better timeline needs to be in place for unexpected bumps in the road.

This lack of conversation causes teams to be held back from their full potential. A feasible solution is to hire a communications director for the IT department. Their needs will be heard and conveyed to management, and vice versa. This will bridge the gap of being “lost in translation” between company officers and their IT team. If that option is out of the picture, have more executive support in the IT projects for there to be guidance.

Time to Value of BI Projects Are Unsatisfactory

BI project failure rate is upwards to 80% according to Gartner. Unclear business targets leave analysts with questions like…

  • What do I present to my audience?
  • Are we using the most desirable data?
  • What data should I cultivate for this project?

Along with answering those propositions, data quality issues can emerge. Dirty data can cause BI teams to become stagnant, due to the amount of data prep necessary. Increases in time-to-value occur because of the lack of alignment between business goals and the data. Checkpoints of project progression on what needs to be accomplished should happen quarterly. When implementing or a scaling a solution it can be a long process that causes users to grow impatient. This is caused by the inability to quickly learn and adapt new BI tools or the lack of qualified personnel. Once a product/update is on the market, the cost to benefit analysis comes in. Most BI projects take a while to see the intended profits, this can lead to discouragement.

If requirements weren’t formally stated, the final product can become a big flop. All the time spent on the project won’t have much value.

Data Issues

Some questions to keep in mind when working on BI projects are:

  • Where does the data come from?
  • What is the validity?
  • Do the data sets make logical sense to analyze?

The data needs to be sanitized/filtered, in order to achieve business objectives. Companies collect mass amounts of data and have numerous ways to analyze it. Focusing on the target allows this process to become simplified. Without a fixation on the target goal, “data paralysis” can occur and the objective could be lost. Data paralysis is defined as, “over analyzing a situation to where no decisions are made, causing any forward movement to halt.”

Finding a way to harness specific data that is relevant to the business need; insights can be drawn. Key points are highlighted and then presented through data visualization. There should be a focus on audience and what they need to know when presenting your insights.

Call to Action

Although there are many ways for a BI project to be unsuccessful; lack of communication, time to value issues, and data issues are the top causes. A way to solve these problems is to hire a project manager that has a background in BI. That individual will be able to communicate with the IT department and executives to create an attainable goal between both parties. The project manager can adjust the timeline allowing the IT department to have adequate time to complete the project and reap the rewards. 

Assuring effective communication will allow setting quality expectations and goals to become easier.  Avoiding data quality issues and slowdowns will sidestep schedule delays. The timeline for the BI project should be flexible, issues are bound to happen. It is more likely for human error to arise than technology error, so correcting your team’s actions will save project time and money.

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