What are the Keys to a Successful BI Project?

As someone who has been involved in the reporting in the Reporting element of every major Wynne RentalResult installation since 2000. I’m often asked, “what are the most important things to consider when looking at reporting on a new system installation?” To many people’s surprise I almost never answer with technology, but always go back to the business process. Here are some keys:

Think about the requirements first.

What do you want to measure in your business? What are your key drivers and KPI’s?  Decide on these and then work backward.

Capture the right data.

This one often gets overlooked and is really key. Teams are created as part of the project implementation to manage different aspects of the business (ie: finance, warehousing, order processing). The hire desk manager may design their process to streamline the order taking process and the finance team may determine reporting requirements for their major KPI’s, But if these two teams don’t work together you may discover that critical data is not captured at the point of order entry that the finance team deem key for one of their KPIs.

A prime example of this is with rental rates. I’ve worked with a number of customers who want to measure average rental rate by item, which is a great KPI. Where this goes wrong is that they allow their hire desk to write over the rental rate when negotiating with the customer. Again this is ok, but where the process falls down is when the hire desk tries to hide charges from the customer. Say the customer wants a 50-ton crane and an appointed person. The crane is $500 a day and the appointed person $200. The hire desk wants to bundle a job together for the customer and price the crane at $650 and the appointed person at $50. Instantly, any averages are skewed by the too low appointed person and the too high crane. There is no right or wrong answer here but the process needs to be considered as part of the bigger picture and determine what’s more important the KPIs or the order entry.

Think about reporting by exception.

For example, instead of asking for a report of all the purchase orders raised in a day which will be hundreds of lines long that no one reads, ask for a report of all purchase orders over $500 raised that day. It’s a shorter report going straight to the nub of what you wanted and stops the important wood being lost in the trivial trees.

Break Free from Legacy reports.

If you are moving from an older system now is your chance to change reporting. We are often asked to recreate column for column reports that came from a legacy system but you are implementing a new system with new processes.  Take this as a chance to change your reports for something more meaningful.  Don’t settle for I want this report because I’ve always had it.  Ask what its use will be.

Involve the BI implementation specialists early.

We all have experience implementing the rental systems and some of the team even came to Wynne from a background in the rental industry. We’ve worked to build reports for dozens of customers and understand the system as well as the reporting technology. We can advise on set up changes and processes that can greatly enhance the end reporting product.  We all work closely with the project delivery team to make sure BI and system setup gel. So think about your report requirements early and talk to us at the beginning.  Don’t leave reporting as an afterthought to be dealt with at the end.

If you want to talk more about your reporting needs, shoot me an email or better yet visit with me in person at the User Conference in October in Las Vegas. I am presenting at a few classes and even offering up free working sessions during the conference for those that attend. Space is limited so sign up for the conference today and request a 90-minute Reporter session with me.

Written by Mike Waters – Business Intelligence Manager, Wynne Systems

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