Earlier this week, I presented alongside Saskia Battersby, Deepa Sankar, and Jerry Hamner (from Rapid Decision) on the topic of “getting the most out of your BI implementation.” The objective for this webcast was to talk about how to ensure that SAP BusinessObjects customers understand the best methods for ensuring success of their BI deployments. During the presentation, my fellow speakers and I talked about how to measure BI engagement, rapidly integrating ERP-based data into your BI deployments, and the overall organization of a BI competency center.

There was one question from the attendees that really caught my attention. It was: “How do you suggest starting a BICC for a small organization?” The individual who asked the question defined small as a 200 people. I think that the response to this question is the same regardless of whether the organization is small, medium, large, or ridiculously large.

You should start small – regardless of the size of your organization. Creating a BI competency center is about defining why analytics are important to your organization, specifying which analytics in particular are the most critical to your organizational decision making, defining how you’re going to measure the effectiveness of those analytics, having a process to review that effectiveness, and having stakeholder support for your initiative. The real key is to start small. Start with a specific department, project, business function, process, …. whatever. You pick a way to limit your scope to something that is manageable and allows you to demonstrate the effectiveness of your new competency center. Once you can demonstrate success and improvements in how people are leveraging BI across an organization, then others will start paying attention and you can grow.

For example, perhaps you have noticed within your sales organization that there is one sales person that really stands out as top notch quarter over quarter. He or she always has the top sales. Their customers love them. They sell the most bundles. They generate the most repeat business from their existing customers. How are they doing it? What can we learn from them so that we can make others more successful? One aspect of this is, potentially, the analytics they are using to make decisions. Maybe they are looking at one particular dashboard more frequently than others. Maybe they are doing their own analysis against specific information sources that help them be more effective and agile during the sales process. How are analytics helping this person to be effective? This is where a BICC can help. They can create these correlations – if they exist – between effective members of your organization and the information that they are consuming or creating. This is possible by establishing which analytics are your most critical, defining the scope of which part of your organization on which you want to focus, and measuring how the individuals within group or team are leveraging analytics.

Obviously, there are many details around each of the steps that I listed above. Perhaps you need help identifying the right stakeholders? Maybe you need help defining which tools are best for your BI community? Maybe you even need help determining how to gather requirements for picking the rights tools? It’s possible that you need help stating the value of BI. There’s help within the SAP community for determining the answers to all of these questions. You can learn more about how SAP thinks you should approach a BICC here and here. There are presentations and lots of valuable information from Timo Elliott. One presentation of his is here. He even posts a video of SAP talking about implementing its own BICC. You can learn about choosing the right tool for the job from Ingo Hilgefort. You can also join a discussion about this topic that was started by Raphael Branger.

There are also many other aspects of your analytic deployment that a BICC can help manage other than those that I have discussed here. This will be dependent upon how you use analytics and what is important to your organization. Perhaps you want to control design standards so that all of the information that your organization consumes has some uniformity and is easy to consume. This is a great initiative and is something that a BICC can help monitor. You may even want to apply monitoring of industry standards, SAP suggested BI standards, government regulation compliance monitoring, etc….

The point is that there are many different ways in which a BICC can help you to better leverage business analytics across your organization. The important point is to pick one or two of them, pick one part of your organization that needs to be more effective, recruit stakeholders, and start measuring success or failure.

I hope that this helps guide some of you towards the next step in establishing a BI Competency Center. If you have questions, ask. Maybe someone here on the EVTechnologies team or someone in the community can help guide you further.

Thanks for reading.