BI 2010 – BI Competency Centers

February 24, 2010
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Two presenters (Saroj from Standard Bank and Angela from Investec) discussed Business Intelligence Competency Centers to start day 2.

A BICC is a centralized team that captures knowledge, addresses technology, helps manage organizational change and defines common processes for BI across the organization. Repeatability is critical – not having to re-invent things for each new project.

When the BICC effort began Standard Bank found different areas of the retail business at different levels of competency – some were still at level 1 with little or no awareness of BI and others were at level 3 or 4 with BI becoming more strategic. A BICC was seen as a way to bring all areas up to a high level. Investec in contrast had a successful reporting tool project in one area that it wanted to replicate to others and saw a BICC as a way to do this.

Challenges that drove BICCs in the two companies included…

Two presenters (Saroj from Standard Bank and Angela from Investec) discussed Business Intelligence Competency Centers to start day 2.

A BICC is a centralized team that captures knowledge, addresses technology, helps manage organizational change and defines common processes for BI across the organization. Repeatability is critical – not having to re-invent things for each new project.

When the BICC effort began Standard Bank found different areas of the retail business at different levels of competency – some were still at level 1 with little or no awareness of BI and others were at level 3 or 4 with BI becoming more strategic. A BICC was seen as a way to bring all areas up to a high level. Investec in contrast had a successful reporting tool project in one area that it wanted to replicate to others and saw a BICC as a way to do this.

Challenges that drove BICCs in the two companies included:

  • A lack of collaboration between IT and the business
  • A lack of trust and visibility
  • Business people not empowered and forced to focus on the technology not on business decision-making
  • No central strategy and lots of disconnected initiatives.
  • Wide range of tools and technologies being used in different areas with skills and expertise scattered around
  • No repeatability for BI projects

Starting a BICC required a typical set of requirements for both companies:

  • An executive sponsor and some key stakeholders
  • A mission for the center and a business case.
  • Understanding of the BI landscape in terms of who was using what for what purpose
  • Understanding of what the different business units wanted from a BICC
  • A communication plan developed so that the business departments did not wonder what IT was up to
  • PR – marketing and promoting the BICC.

Both BICCs have business user reps (focused on ROI and business requirements), BI analysts and developers (focused on efficiency and technology skills) and BI trainers (focused on skill levels with the standard tools across the board). The organization is virtual in both companies, with the business user members still reporting to their business managers while also reporting in to the BICC who report up to IT.

The business and IT people bring different skills to the BICC but they all need to be proactive, have people skills and bring some business acumen to the table. The BICC does not set business strategy or vision but tries to act as a catalyst for getting this defined and then provide a standard methodology, toolset and skills for delivering the projects that the strategy requires.

Recommendations:

  • Start small but think big
  • Inventory BI initiatives and skills
  • Define business objectives for the BICC and figure out which executives to report to based on them
  • Sell the BICC to new projects and make sure the funding strategy will work
  • Look for ways to turn BI into revenue streams
  • Work with other competency centers in the company
  • Use reports with bad data, contradictory reports and other problems to convince people that a BICC is worthwhile
  • Regulatory compliance is often a powerful driver
  • Multi-skill the team so you can keep it small (10 or less) while still handling the range of skills you need
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