Jun 13, 2014

Business intelligence platforms are a valuable asset to organizations. They provide visibility, time savings, the ability to invest in ongoing improvements, real-time access to information and a single version of the truth for everyone to work off of, removing confusion and misunderstandings.

Consolidating reports and having instant access to all your information at your fingertips in one place with the ability to explore it at will without IT is undoubtedly appealing.

And with the deluge of data most organizations experience, it only makes sense to tame and harness the power of it.

However, it is no secret that the failure of dashboards is notorious and organizations have spent billions of dollars on BI products that haven’t panned out.

So what’s going on?

Here are five common reasons business intelligence platforms fail:

1. KPI’s not identified

Without effectively capturing key requirements from users, whether they be executive, finance, sales, operations, etc., you run the risk of having a fancy tool with lots of features that’s of no use to anyone.

Taking the time in the beginning to identify the key performance metrics that need to be tracked is one of the most important parts of the entire process.

2. End users are not involved in the design and development

When you don’t involve the very people who will be using the platform during the design and development you risk losing their buy-in. Not only is it important to understand how they will use the system and use their knowledge to ensure it is the right fit for the job, but their involvement goes a long way to making them comfortable with the change and turning them into champions of the new system. With their investment in the project, it is more likely they will use it and promote it to others.

3. Doesn’t fit with current processes

Another mistake that often occurs when not having end users involved in the development (and sometimes even when they are), is not ensuring that the use of the new platform fits well with the way the users currently work. If users have to spend extra time and energy using the new system, it risks not being used at all. Furthermore, if the system isn’t intuitive and user-friendly, users will quickly become frustrated.

4. Poor dashboard design

When it comes to dashboard design, a lot of time is invested in making the visualizations look fancy and slick. While undoubtedly a perk, for a dashboard to be truly worth the time and money invested, it simply needs to highlight the right information, to the right people in a way they can understand and take action on.

If the design of the dashboard doesn’t allow this to take place, it doesn’t matter how nice it looks.

5. Implementation takes too long

A big reason many BI platforms fail to provide their full potential is the length of time it takes to get them up and running – in some cases months and even years.

There are a few ways this could adversely affect a project. First, the needs of the business can easily change in this time, making the objectives of the project obsolete. Second, the longer the project goes on the bigger the risk of it becoming bogged down with shifting priorities that may dilute its initial purpose. Third, organizations risk losing user buy-in for a project that looks like it will never be completed and leaves users frustrated because they don’t have access to information they need.

While the benefits of a business intelligence platform are undeniable and the only way for organizations to stay ahead of the curve today, it is important to ensure that your project doesn’t fail due to any of these pitfalls.