How To Make BI Less of a Gamble

To avoid expensive BI debacles, use rules-based audits and proofs of concept to understand potential project pitfalls

Putting It Together

Ignoring BI project risks is reckless and naive. You can't avoid risks entirely, but you can integrate risk-analysis techniques, such as RBAs and POCs, into the project itself. Together, these techniques give you a clear understanding of problems that lie ahead so you can consider alternatives or revise your strategy to ensure success. RBAs and POCs are not only effective, they're cheap when compared to full-scale production implementations.

No-cost and Low-Cost Resources

Reducing risk does not have to be expensive. My company, HandsOn-BI (, has developed its own Business Rules Engine (BRE) tool using Visual Basic and Excel. This homegrown tool is designed to run on a laptop, and it lets you conduct effective rules-based audits on sample data without worrying about technology compatibility.

For larger, more complex audits and proofs of concept, we recommend DMExpress from Syncsort ( This software is scalable from a simple laptop to a 64-way Superdome. It provides a full range of ETL functionality without a significant learning curve for business analysts.

Readers of Intelligent Enterprise can download workstation trial copies of BRE and DMExpress for a limited time at BRE is then free to those who register at HandsOn-BI. The full workstation version of DMExpress costs about $2,000. A detailed white paper, “Conducting a Rules-Based Audit and Proof of Concept,” expands on the topics discussed in this article and is available for download at

— Michael L. Gonzales

Michael L. Gonzales is president of The Focus Group Ltd. His books include Ibm Data Warehousing (Wiley, 2003). Write him at [email protected].