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7 Dangers Companies Can Avoid When Implementing BI Solutions

SAP News | July 29, 2016

As a manager, you need to ensure your company is well prepared to implement BI software into its current business operations.

In today’s challenging work environment, managers of small and large organizations don’t only need the correct tools to take on competition. They need to know how to use them. Unfortunately the latter seems to get left by the wayside when companies adopt new business intelligence applications. Managers become excited about the possibilities without fully understanding how to ensure those possibilities come into play.

In a report published in the American Journal of Scientific Research, the authors took an in depth look at the different components of BI software and its impact on businesses and noted that we’ve come a long way from traditional systems that lack the type of scope needed to analyze today’s complex data environments.

“Data can be a valuable resource for extracting knowledge and making important managerial decisions in different business scopes,” stated the report’s authors. “Regarding [increased] data in organizations, today, using [this] data and analyzing [it] has become one of the most modern management tools. Making on-time, correct decisions requires the domination [of] real and comprehensive information that traditional information systems can’t generate.”

“Traditional applications can only go so far in terms of data recording, storage and analyzing.”

Many companies that have realized simple and traditional spreadsheet applications (think Google sheets and Excel) can only go so far in terms of data recording, storage and analyzing, often eagerly turn to BI applications, such as SAP.

However, they do so without giving much thought in terms of risk management. After all, despite BI’s advantages, it can actually hinder a company’s ability to meet expectations if not implemented and used properly.

Managers can avoid BI implementation problems when they consider risk management.

Let’s discuss seven common pitfalls managers may face when using BI software, their impact on businesses and how to avoid them.

  1. Failure to Strategize Beyond Implementation
    Going back to what we previously noted regarding impulse buying, many managers eagerly research new BI solutions and put together a comprehensive implementation strategy. This accomplishes two things: It impresses higher-ups so they approve the new intelligence system, and it places the manager in charge under a more endearing spotlight.

However, few managers go beyond this phase to try to figure out how their new software will affect everything from team chemistry to other business operations, such as sales and customer service. It’s vital that leaders take a big picture approach when spending money on new systems. Doing so will not only save them and their teams time but also money.

  1. Failure to Discuss Strategy With Your Team
    How will SAP impact sales and marketing programs? What’s the main reason for using this software, and what’s the end goal? Is there an internal problem it’s trying to solve, or is the company looking to improve upon already established processes? These are all points of discussion managers need to ask and answer prior to putting together their strategy which they’ll eventually propose to higher-ups.

Not discussing the finer points of BI integration with their teams to obtain feedback almost guarantees failure at some level. Again, this could affect a company’s bottom line as they try to correct mistakes that would have been avoided had the manager better flushed out his or her ideas.

  1. Failure to Predict Budget Size
    Poor planning can cause managers to underestimate the cost of BI implementation, maintenance and upgrading even if the latter is free and completed automatically by the software company.

It’s vital that managers understand not only what their company can afford but also estimate return on investment. The question of what kind of impact BI software can have on the company’s bottom line should be at the forefront of the manager’s mind throughout the entire implementation process.

  1. Failure to Relate Operational Processes to BI Solution
    The phrase “operational” or “business processes” is an overused, vague way of saying, “our employees, teams and departments do a lot of things.” While this makes for simpler, more concise writing, managers shouldn’t use it in their proposal.

They need to specifically describe the actual processes that BI solutions will help optimize and streamline. Being anxious to shift implementation into integration, some managers may feel they can skim over the details. Problems typically arise weeks or months later when the BI software is making little impact on workflow.

“BI software isn’t an install-and-forget-about-it type of application.”

  1. Failure to Test the Program
    BI software isn’t an install-and-forget-about-it type of application. Many programs, SAP in particular, have both basic and in depth functions that take time to learn how to use, implement and test.

Properly testing software ensures that your department (or company) is taking advantage of its full capabilities. If not, managers can make adjustments quickly so their teams are mining and analyzing the correct data.

Managers that don’t take the necessary steps to test their software, put the company at risk of analyzing false data that could cost them hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars.

  1. Failure to Staff Properly
    Prior to using SAP software, managers must ensure their staff is prepared to transition from their existing data platform to the new BI solution. This is easier said than done. Staff members must be trained on how to use the software and how they can use it to enhance their current processes.

If a manager feels like certain operations can’t be handled by already employed members, he or she needs to look for outside help. This might include a database administrator or an operation system manager skilled in SAP usage.

  1. Failure to Update SAP Properly
    Software may automatically update, but it’s up to the manager to ensure that it does in fact update properly. If it’s manual, this is even more crucial. As we mentioned before, BI solutions aren’t an install-and-forget-about-it type of applications. They must be well maintained and upgraded.

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Managers need to be well prepared prior to upgrading to BI software.