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The 7 Most Important Sections of a BI Business Case

back to square one sign 150x150 The 7 Most Important Sections of a BI Business CaseAlmost one-third of all business intelligence projects fail to “meet the objectives of the business,” according to Gartner Research Inc.

Andy Hayler echoes that sentiment by noting that high failure rates are also associated with data management projects in general.

He contends that nearly every one of these failures can be attributed to the lack of a business case that should include, at minimum, information regarding the total cost of ownership, the potential risk of failure, and the benefits to the organization as a result of success.

Without these elements:

  • Management cannot accurately judge the likelihood of success.
  • Management may select a competing project that does not measure well against the BI initiative.
  • Management may find it difficult identifying or quantifying benefits.
  • The BI team may not be able to garner support from other business areas within the organization – support that’s necessary for success.

Writing a clear and concise business case for any project requires “a thorough analysis of the situation that led to the initiative . . . ,” according to this definition in TechTarget. Additionally, requirements should be captured along with a reasonable estimate of the efforts involved in completing the project.

This should include a list and description of the required resources, the expected return on investment, and the anticipated phases and milestones of the project. Finally, identify data from a variety of sources including other project results, research, analysis, studies, financial records and projections. Obtain as much data as you can so management can make the best decision.

But before presenting your BI business case to management, get input from others. If they feel the project is feasible then seek their support. When you develop your business case, be sure you answer the following questions as they relate to these seven critical sections:

  1. Executive summary. Does your executive summary include all the essential elements and follow the same order as the completed document?
  2. Problem statement. Does your problem statement follow naturally from the analysis of the situation?
  3. Analysis of the situation. Are the events that led to the initiative clearly defined? Did you perform a thorough analysis of the situation? Is that analysis presented in a clear and concise manner?
  4. Solution options. Is your list of potential solutions to the problem adequate? Does it omit any solutions that should be included?
  5. Project description. Is your project description detailed enough?
  6. Cost-benefit analysis. Do you have enough supporting data in your cost-benefit analysis? Are the data and calculations in the budget section correct?
  7. Number of recommendations. Have you approached at least one major stakeholder for preliminary support?
Next Steps:
  • To learn more about how analytics can improve your business and increase your bottom line, check out our complimentary “5-Minute Guide to Business Analytics,” to find out how user-driven “analytic” or “data discovery” technologies help business and technology users more quickly uncover insights and speed action.

Dennis Earl Hardy
Spotfire Blogging Team

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