I find it hard to focus. Especially when I have been given too many things to choose from. Eliminating waste and recycling helps me clean out my attic and my head. It also helps me focus on the right BI (Business Intelligence) elements and Key Performance Indicators.
I am unstructured...
I come up with 20 ideas per day. Here is my issue: I only have time to focus and develop one of them.
In order for idea's to have any kind of impact, I need to be able to choose the right idea and... focus.
This is something which can play in many domains. We discovered that most BI (Business Intelligence) systems have similar issues: there are so many things you could measure, there are many good BI idea's.
There are so many KPI's which may bring value, or at least be of value to someone in the organisation. Using DWA (Data Warehouse Automation), you can deploy faster, cutting time to market by as much as 80% - so you could get more BI stuff out to even more people.
So that's what we tend to do.
Is Business Intelligence able to help us focus?
Last summer I discovered an insightful book which contains a list of 75 key performance indicators which, according to the author Bernard Marr "Every Manager needs to know". It was a good read, I do recommend it.
However, after summer I met up with one of our customers, who is managing partner at a large accountancy firm. He too had picked up a summer copy.
When he divulged his plan to implement all 75 KPI's throughout the organisation, my heart skipped a beat. Maybe people working in accountancy firms can focus better than the average employee, but would they be able to handle that many new parameters?
The story did get me to think about Business Intelligence and... focus.
How many KPI's should you focus on?
I find I can focus best on one task, one idea or KPI at a time. So I need to make choices. For some people this may come easy. Personally, when I have many options to consider, I tend to get drowned.
(This sense of drowning happens in other places as well: every time I bring back the wrong version of shampoo conditioner for my wife - but that's just me)
When it comes to choosing idea's, I have become more selective. I've also learned to involve colleagues and further reduce my options. Reducing things to choose from has proven to be beneficial.
It allows me to focus my time and attention on the one idea that matters.
With regards to Business Intelligence, Key Performance Indicators or reports, I believe the same thing goes:
in order to focus, we need to be able to measure what matters and eliminate what does not.
Ok. So what matters?
What matters to you may not matter to me. What matters to the finance department may not mean anything to people in production. What we focus on today may be different to what we needed to focus on last month. Maybe we do need 75 key performance indicators after all. We need to be able to add new parameters, new KPI's, roll out new and better dashboards and reports. Data Warehouse Automation will allow you to quickly add new interests and area's as they present themselves. That by itself is great, but will it allow us to focus, or will it become another way to generate distraction?
Data Warehouse Automation allows to add to the stack,
but can it allow us to focus?
Focus is a matter of choice. Eliminate the bad, choose from the good. Over time, as a BI system is being used, it will accumulate KPI's, reports, dashboard, etc. Some of it will have become irrelevant or simply bad. This is inevitable. The more legacy we accumulate, the harder it will become for users to focus.
That's why we need to be able to prune & eliminate legacy.
In daily life, this happens when I need to clean out my garage.
Some of it will get reused but most of it needs to be taken out to the trash.
Nobody likes to take out trash
I truly find it hard to discard old items. Lucky for me, the storage capacity in my house is rather limited.
For a BI system this may be a lot harder. As IT storage is cheap - why bother with the exercise of recycling and trashing?
The answer to me is clear: if we do not, we will loose focus.
Select what is of value and how it can be reused. Understanding how facts and figures relate to each other will be of help. We have discovered that understanding how a KPI came to life, knowing how it has evolved and by whom it has been used - will allow you to separate good from ugly and bad. This requires documentation we likely do not have time to create manually. Having a BI environment where everything gets automatically documented may be of great help.
It is the role of the business leaders to understand which elements are worthy of our attention.
By reducing the stockpile of KPI's, the BI team can help accelerate the process.
Which, in turn, should allow us all to focus.