To succeed, the prerequisites must be in place. It must be technically possible to get it under control (in a workshop, you need a board, hooks, racks, etc.), there must be a plan for making room for an extra screwdriver or replacing an existing one, and all users should know that they need to put it back in its place after use and to say when they used the last screw.
What does this have to do with BI?
The common element between my workshop scenario and BI is that they involve people and processes. If you do not give them access to the right technology, describe the work processes and manage who does what, you end up with a messy and inadequate tool wall.
In the BI world, this corresponds to reports and dashboards in email inboxes, on network drives or on the intranet being updated sporadically. The work processes depend on people, and often there is disagreement about which version is the latest and, in particular, whether concerning the definitions behind the numbers in a report.
So is there an easy solution?
If there was an easy solution, then it would have been implemented long ago (and used more often). However, there is a solution, and it requires discipline. The solution is Governance, and it requires that you tackle the problem and establish how to work with:
Technology – which tool should be used to develop reports, distribute them and use them
Organisation – who can and should use which tools (and particularly who should not)
Process – how should we use the tools to develop, distribute and use
What I have discovered is that these three elements are interwoven, and the mess occurs when you cannot establish a balance between them. The chaos on a network drive happens because the technology is available but you have not issued guidelines, e.g. for naming folders or limiting the right to create folders.
This leads to doubt about who has the latest updated report since the use process is not visible or even non-existent.
A framework for a solution
At Kapacity, we have established a framework that addresses many of the challenges that arose or may arise in conjunction with roll-out of Power BI in an organisation.
We have mapped the functionality available in the Power BI universe and categorised it so that it fits with a generic set of roles, each with its own area of responsibility.
We have specified many of the processes we see as fundamental to ensuring good governance. In other words, the working procedures necessary to avoid the mess must be described and displayed so that the users can follow them. And the technology must support the working procedures as much as possible, so that it is easier to follow the process than to “take a short cut” and make a mess.
The generic roles we have defined must be adapted to your organisation, so that we can use the language and terms with users that are already used internally (if they exist). This adaptation also helps to ensure that there is a certain recognisability that spans operation, development and use of BI.
If you think it’s like biting your own tail when I write that technical elements are categorised in accordance with roles in the organisation which should follow the processes that describe where and when to use the technical elements, you are on the right track.
If you do not deal with all three, you will not achieve optimal governance, and you risk ending up with a messy workshop full of good intentions and deliverables, which can be summed up as follows:
Month’s_Report_version2.a_test_MSH – latest
Are you heading towards a new BI landscape and “would like to do the right thing this time”, then it is worth spending time on governance. If you can recognise the situation in your BI landscape and need and want a friendly push, then reach out to us – we can help you from start to finish.
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