The BI Cantos: Developing a Strategic Roadmap

Data

The BI Cantos: Developing a Strategic Roadmap

A strategy vision roadmap (SVR) is a document that details the purpose of the project, expected benefits, training plans, project timeframe, proof-of-concept testing and validation. The SVR summarizes the overall project plan while also time-phasing all significant sub-projects (sprints) necessary to complete all the deliverables. It should include a preliminary budget for the entire project.

Most deployment teams need to gain experience deploying Business Intelligence (BI) systems using current best practices. They may need help understanding cloud platforms or other recent developments.  They need expert knowledge of the software market. For these reasons, you must retain expert consultants to help your team develop an initial budget and project plan. A good consulting partner will have hands-on experience planning projects, developing budgets and writing strategic value roadmaps.

Experienced consultants have developed the best practices and marketplace knowledge that your team lacks. Consultants will close your team’s knowledge gaps and help you avoid costly, early mistakes. You can’t finalize a formal project budget until after a proof-of-concept (POC) project is finished and all the selection criteria and expected results from the test are validated.

Your consulting partner can help you select an appropriate proof-of-concept sprint. This sprint must balance complexity, time and expense with learning and impact. Consider developing two project budgets. One for the initial work to define needs, identify candidate software and deliver a proof-of-concept sprint. The second budget should cover the remaining development work, training and launch support and include a buffer for cost overruns if your initial proof-of-concept testing fails.

Sprints in Your Roadmap

The strategy vision roadmap should include a detailed project plan with separate sprints for every deliverable. The SVR should explain 6 to 12 sprints. Sprints typically require 3 to 8 weeks to complete. Don’t specify the exact order and deliverables for each sprint in the SVR. Leave this open. You want to be able to access the readiness of each domain area before starting the sprint. If you do this 2 to 3 weeks before each sprint start date, you can select the group that is best prepared.

Every sprint will deliver at least one interactive dashboard. The data source for this dashboard will come from the new database your project team will provide, along with the related data transformation, data cleaning, and data loading automation. Sprints are completed only after the target audience has validated that the content delivered meets or exceeds expectations.

Expect the overall project duration to be 12 to 18 months. If you’ve prepared as suggested, your project will produce observable benefits after finishing the proof-of-concept (POC) sprint. A well-designed POC sprint will deliver end-user-certified dashboards and data sources in as little as one month. The resulting excitement will propel your project forward.

Suppose you have someone on your technical team with recent experience in the software tools you are considering. In that case, you may not need to engage in consulting help. Not needing this help is rare. Even capable and experienced technical staff need help understanding changes in the analytics software marketplace. Knowledge gaps in six areas are typical:

  1. Software attributes and proper timing of purchases.
  2. Understanding the current SaaS marketplace.
  3. How expenses are generated and managed.
  4. Deployment best practices.
  5. Design skills, database and dashboard.
  6. How vendor and design decisions impact costs.

Benefits of Hiring a Consultant

An experienced consultant will help you navigate sales pitches by vendors. It makes sense to vet a few consulting companies representing software vendors whose primary business is delivering client services.

Competent consulting firms are first to gain a deep knowledge of new products and the pros and cons of each. Software vendors recruit these companies (especially the ones with the best reputations) because they know passing muster with them is a rite of passage into their established customer base. Consider consulting companies that have completed many deployments. They will minimize the potential for making bad choices with significant cost implications later. Experienced consultants will also guide how to time-phase your software, training and consulting expenses.

Identify two or three solid consulting partners as candidates. Ask them to provide a presentation of their service model. Identify what toolsets they have experience with and why they chose to represent those products. Ask for three client references you can interview. Get details on their projects to assess the fit with your project.

A credible consulting company can supply a list of references. Their customers should be happy to share their positive experiences with the company. If they can’t provide these references, do not consider them for your project.

Creating a Strategy Vision Roadmap

Engage a consulting company to help you create a deployment roadmap that includes the following:

  • Proof-of-concept project (POC)
  • Recommended software stack
  • Roadmap for the overall project
  • Training plan with budget
  • Deployment team membership recommendations
  • Technical consultants to offset knowledge gaps
  • A budget for all software needed
  • Project timeline for all phases of the project
  • Recommended security and data governance models
  • Install and configure the software to best practice

This Strategy Vision Roadmap (SVR) will require four to twelve weeks to assemble. That exact time will depend on the condition of your source data, the complexity of your operations, and the number of deliverables required.

You will need 6 to 15 meetings of 1 to 4 hours to collect the necessary details during your discovery session to build your plan. Good preparation will reduce the required time for a well-documented SVR.

Get your selected consulting partner to prepare the SVR. Their experience is worth the investment. A reasonable price range for this sort of work is $10,000 to $100,000, depending on the scope of work. All deliverables should be in writing with all related quotes included. Wise use of expert resources at this stage will ensure satisfaction later.

In the next post, we’ll consider staffing your team and defining your proof-of-concept (POC) sprint.

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Dan Murray

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