A Letter to Our Users, From Your BI Team

June 1, 2009
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In which Jill writes a rebuttal letter to a rebuttal letter, this time from IT.

photo by footage via Flickr  

Two posts ago, I penned a fictitious (albeit observation-based) letter from a group of BI business users to their IT comrades. The post got lots of hits and tweets, many of them gently requesting equal time. (Okay, demanding it.) So I’m putting my IT cap back on and diving headfirst into the fray once again, this time with a rebuttal from the BI team.

Dear BI Users:

Thanks for your letter and for taking the time to write it. Sometimes we’re not sure you even know we’re here. In fact we’re working hard, and we’re grateful for any type of feedback.

Speaking of which, we invited you all to a Lunch & Learn session last Thursday where we presented a prototype of the Customer Event Management solution you’ve all been asking for. We’re one step closer to predicting the churn of high-value customers, but we need your input. Most of you accepted the meeting invitation, but only four of you showed up. What happened?

Okay, we don’t want to seem defensive but if you don’t feel listened to, well, neither do we. We understand that you’re not wild about those architecture and infrastructure conversations, and

In which Jill writes a rebuttal letter to a rebuttal letter, this time from IT.

photo by footage via Flickr  

Two posts ago, I penned a fictitious (albeit observation-based) letter from a group of BI business users to their IT comrades. The post got lots of hits and tweets, many of them gently requesting equal time. (Okay, demanding it.) So I’m putting my IT cap back on and diving headfirst into the fray once again, this time with a rebuttal from the BI team.

Dear BI Users:

Thanks for your letter and for taking the time to write it. Sometimes we’re not sure you even know we’re here. In fact we’re working hard, and we’re grateful for any type of feedback.

Speaking of which, we invited you all to a Lunch & Learn session last Thursday where we presented a prototype of the Customer Event Management solution you’ve all been asking for. We’re one step closer to predicting the churn of high-value customers, but we need your input. Most of you accepted the meeting invitation, but only four of you showed up. What happened?

Okay, we don’t want to seem defensive but if you don’t feel listened to, well, neither do we. We understand that you’re not wild about those architecture and infrastructure conversations, and we try to shield you from that stuff whenever we can. But sometimes we need your approval for investments in foundational technologies. If IT indeed supports the business, both sides need to know what’s being supported.

But since you asked, we’ll tell you where we’ve been. We’ve been trying to explain to you that we can’t develop the custom software you’ve requested for a packaged price. It seems you all want Microsoft Office-quality tools, but we have a nine-person BI team here! And, not to burst your bubble or anything, but here it is:  there’s really no such thing as BI-in-a-box. All BI work is custom development. So, to answer your question for the 99th time: No, we can’t just “plug and play.”

We’ve also been delivering the 24×7 support you’ve wanted—or haven’t you looked at the SLAs we created? This stings a little, since we’re on call day and night. You don’t know this because you’re fast asleep while we’re loading your data and upgrading systems to support your requirements. After all, there are nine of us on the team, yet you want operational-class support. How many people staff members are involved in building our operational systems? (Answer: More than nine.) But we can’t get you guys to come look at the stuff we’re building for you. At lunchtime. With sandwiches.

Our conundrum is this: the business funds IT, so we’re beholden to you for money. Yet when we want to make sure your money is used well, we can’t get you to share where you’re going, let alone evaluate the solutions you’ve asked us to build!

And believe us, we’d like to fix the data as much as you would. But we don’t own the data, the operational systems developers do. And they say no one ever complains about it. Seriously, we are only as effective as the data we get from those systems and our understanding of the rules needed to fix it. We could put you guys in touch with our Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable system developers and you can get them to write your reports. No? We didn’t think so.

Look, we’re happy to rethink the way we work together, to define new rules of engagement. We’re even happy to fund a resource to shadow you while you do your jobs so we don’t have to keep on asking you what’s next. But we need you to meet us halfway. Shoot, we need you to meet us, period. How about lunch?

You know where to find us,

Your BI Team


Photo by footage (via Flickr)

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