4 reasons why agile is perfect for business intelligence (BI) projects
Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

Many businesses recognise the benefits of using an agile methodology for their software development projects, but don’t realise that this approach can be deployed elsewhere.

A perfect place to start using agile beyond the software scope is for the development of business intelligence (BI) content. Quite simply that’s because an agile approach works brilliantly for BI projects. Here are some of the key reasons why:

Reason 1: Long development process = users build it themselves

Traditional implementation methodologies typically result in a lengthy development process, as the aim is to deliver 100% of the requirements before ‘productionising’ the solution. This, along with the pressure for information at the snap of a finger, often means business users plough ahead with developing offline and off-system solutions. Agile helps in delivering value added content quickly and on a continual basis, therefore minimising any chance of a cottage industry emerging and spiralling out of control.

Reason 2: Responding to changes

Reporting needs often change and change often. Lengthy development phases for reports often mean the solutions that ultimately get delivered are different from the original requirements. Agile helps ensure that sprints and iterations address changes as and when they occur, whilst also ensuring the right information is available to make decisions quickly.

Reason 3: Seeing is believing

When it comes to developing dashboards and mobile reporting apps, typically users are unsure about their needs upfront. Agile helps users visualise the art of the possible early on, enables them to develop a clearer understanding of their needs and ensures that whatever gets built is correctly shaped.

Reason 4: Engagement = Adoption = Momentum

Agile helps users see, understand and benefit from the value of what’s being delivered as early as possible. This results in better engagement, which in turn leads to increased business adoption of the solution and improved momentum of future agile and BI developments. As with most technology deployments, adoption must always be the key indicator of success.

In summary:

If you want to reap the benefits of an agile approach for your BI content the best way to start is with a high-level scoping exercise followed by a defined series of development sprints. At the end of each sprint you should hold playback sessions to share the outcomes with end-users. This will help address all of the four main areas identified above and will serve as the best way to learn agile. The bottom line is your organisation can benefit from agile in many ways, but you need to live and breathe it. If you want to take it beyond software development, this is a great place to start.

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Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

Matt Potts is Solution Principal for Business Insights, specialising in Business Intelligence and Analytics. Matt has worked in the BI domain for over 8 years, helping organisations turn their data into actionable business insights through the use of agile BI platforms and delivery models. He is involved with multiple clients across varying lines of business and industries, working with them to ensure they realise the value from their investment in BI technologies. Outside of work Matt enjoys running, cycling and watching a range of sports and is kept busy by DIY projects at home.

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