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How to achieve Agile business intelligence success

Tony Kenney,partner at C3 Business Solutions | Feb. 23, 2015
Release the solution to business users as quickly as possible, and incrementally improve it with every release.

The Agile development approach to data management and business intelligence (BI) projects is seeing greater take up by CIOs as public and private sector firms demand faster, more measurable returns on their information investments.

An Agile approach can be used to incrementally add business value and if deployed correctly, can return great benefits to any organisation.

Unlike the traditional waterfall methodology, where planning is all done upfront, Agile IM delivery folds 80 per cent of planning into the actual program deployment. This not only gets projects off the ground faster and gives the business results sooner, but yields much better requirements, so the effectiveness of the development team increases dramatically.

The success of the Agile movement has pushed thinking in a few areas of information management, and we expect to see continued growth in popularity of the Agile approach throughout 2015.

One of the key benefits of Agile is that business users start to see value delivered quickly. The idea is to release a solution to business users as quickly as possible, and then incrementally improve it with each future release.

This might sound straight forward but there are some challenges that Agile projects will face. In my experience, one of the major challenges to a successful Agile BI project is having effective product owners in place to help the project deliver value to the business.

The role of the product owner

Product owners are essential to the process and success of an Agile BI project. These people are subject matter experts from within the organisation who not only know the details of the project, but also have deep insight into the various business units involved.

Product owners help to break the overall vision of the project into those small, incrementally deliverable chunks. They are also vital to the important task of communicating the status of the project and deliverables to the broader business stakeholders.

As the strongest advocate of the project, product managers are constantly supporting and 'selling' the project internally while continually updating teams across the organisation.

Product owners work on a day by day basis to help resolve issues as they arise and make decisions on those issues based on the value delivered. They are also the member of the project team responsible for performing user acceptance testing on the incremental deliverables every few weeks.

Setting up for success

When it comes to Agile projects, product owners have the power to either cement, or indeed hamper, a successful outcome.

The challenge we frequently see facing many Agile BI projects is the availability of the product owner. Too often they are still ensconced in their regular role so they aren't able to make enough time to support the project delivery team.


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