Would you pick strong planning or strong execution for your BI project?

If you had to choose, would you pick strong planning or strong execution for your BI project?

Any project can be thought of along the lines of planning and execution. BI projects are of course no exception. Some projects emphasize one over the other, some look to strike a balance. Individuals working on the projects typically tend to be stronger on one or the other: some are great at planning, strategizing, architecting and gathering requirements, while others are great at building, prototyping, developing and executing. The nature of the projects matters as well. So, when you consider a BI project, would you emphasize the planning activities or try to focus on execution?
BI projects are typically more of an explorative journey than a plotted trip from point a to point b. They are riddled with unknowns and questions. Very often, it’s not clear what kind of information will be unlocked by organizing data. It’s also typically not clear what would be the best way to display the data to derive the most useful information. This typically leads to unknowns around the data organization. There are numerous technological, procedural, organizational and political hurdles to overcome. Defining business terms and then translating those definitions into the enormous amounts of  rows and columns that are spread across many databases is not only technically challenging, it requires constant dialogue between the people who are working with the technical details, and those who are working with the abstraction layers of information.
This unique nature of BI projects, constantly swinging between technology and business is why i would pick execution over planning if presented with the choice above. Strong execution means agility, attention to detail and pragmatic approach to solving ever changing challenges. Naturally, execution has to follow an underlining plan, or architecture, otherwise you will end up with a messy mash of components that cannot scale or work in concert, but as long as there is a reasonable amount of planning, focusing on strong execution in your BI project is what will bring you success.

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One Response to Would you pick strong planning or strong execution for your BI project?

  1. Larry Rosenblum says:

    Well said. At the very least, no company knows its data as well as it thinks it does. It always takes more work (and more time) than planned to execute a BI project well.

    The problem is that no one will admit this ahead of time, so the project schedule does not allow for the unexpected. The result is a rush to complete the project, including short cuts, reduction of scope, and “we’ll fix this in release 2” (which rarely happens).

    Anyone know a way to avoid this seemingly inevitable outcome?

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