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Managing the BI Project

Project management in most organizations is treated as an administrative reporting function. Detailed project planning and hands-on daily project control are often minimized, if not ignored, especially when organizations try to get several BI applications up and running very quickly. In their shortsightedness, organizations forget that extended planning activities often lead to shorter testing and implementation cycles and thus a shorter delivery time—exactly what the business community wants.

No BI project gets off the ground without a few "kinks and bends"; delays are common. For example, some products may not have enough capacity; others may not work well in a distributed environment. Switching vendors and products can prove costly in terms of time and money. Vendors often cannot offer the comprehensive solutions that businesses expect because the vendors are still struggling to integrate all the pieces of their BI products. This leaves integration up to the organizations' information technology (IT) staffs.

Many organizations do not adequately plan for these types of delays and setbacks, nor do they test their BI concepts and strategies adequately. Setbacks are inevitable on a project as resource intensive as a BI application—even under the best of circumstances. Planning for setbacks will help management set realistic rollout dates for the project.

Describing project management activities in the most simplistic terms, the goal is to answer four basic questions.

  1. What will be delivered?

  2. When will it be done?

  3. How much will it cost?

  4. Who will do it?

These questions translate, respectively, into the four major project constraints of scope, effort (time), budget, and resources (Figure 3.1). Before the project manager can create a project plan to address these constraints, he or she must spend some time defining the project to clearly understand the related requirements, risks, constraints, and assumptions.

Figure 1Figure 3.1: Project Constraints

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