Boosting Business Acceptance

Business acceptance is a bigger problem than BI/DW professionals want to admit. Here's how to get on the right track.

As the interview comes to a conclusion, we ask interviewees about their success criteria for the DW/BI environment. Of course, each criterion should be measurable. Easy to use and fast mean something different to everyone, so you need to get the interviewees to articulate specifics. At this point in the interview, we make a broad disclaimer. The interviewees must understand that just because an opportunity was discussed doesn't guarantee that it will be resolved immediately. You need to take advantage of this opportunity to manage expectations. Finally, thank interviewees for their insights and let them know what's happening next.

Document, Prioritize and Reach Consensus

Now it's time to write down what you heard. While documentation is everyone's least favorite activity, it's critical for both user validation and project team reference materials.

Two levels of documentation typically result from the interview process. The first is to write up each individual interview. This activity can be quite time-consuming because the write-up shouldn't be merely a stream-of-consciousness transcript, but should make sense to someone who wasn't in the session. The second level is a consolidated findings document. We typically begin with an executive summary, followed by a project overview that discusses the process used and participants involved. The bulk of the report centers on the findings, including specific opportunities for improving, enhancing, and expanding the existing DW/BI environment to better address business needs and expectations.

The realignment findings document serves as the basis for presentations back to senior management and other business representatives who participated. Inevitably, you've uncovered more opportunities than can be tackled immediately, so you need to develop consensus regarding priorities. Prioritization of efforts is an important step in leveraging and fostering an improved partnership to ensure the DW/BI effort aligns with the business. A highly effective tool for reaching agreement on a data warehouse roadmap and action plan is the prioritization quadrant, discussed in "The Bottom-Up Misnomer" (Sept. 17, 2003).

At this point, the DW/BI team has a solid understanding of what needs to be accomplished to better support the business community's requirements and expectations. Delivering on the opportunities identified during the realignment process will establish an improved DW/BI environment that's embraced and accepted across the organization.

Bob Becker [[email protected]] is a member of the Kimball Group. He has focused on dimensional data warehouse consulting and education since 1989.