By Rick Ryan - Envisn, Inc.
This blog could easily focus on the typical BI admin tasks that Cognos administrators have to deal with. The usual stuff like change management, security, license tracking, etc. This is what good administrators do. Users may care about some of these things, but not very much. They just expect them to be managed well as part of the Cognos BI infrastructure. Being good isn’t enough.
What BI users really care about:
- Do I have the information I need?
- Can I get what I need quickly and easily?
- Have I had the training I need to use the BI tools?
- Are they responsive to changing needs?
- Is it always there when I need it?
- Can I trust the data?
The bottom line: It’s all about value to the user.
Why is this, or more importantly, why should this be important to administrators? If users aren’t happy, then nothing else much matters. User satisfaction is the key factor in whether BI installations succeed or fail to grow. But beyond that, really successful BI administrators know that how users feel is a key part of making them successful. This matters for the following reasons:
- It helps them get the resources they need.
- It’s likely part of how they are measured.
- User requirements determine their work focus.
We have seen a number of Cognos BI environments where administrators seem to have an adversarial relationship with their users. In others, users needs drive the BI group and measurable results have them asking for more. Sometimes these different BI groups may exist within the same company. One company has a large Cognos BI deployment where financial information is focused on improving productivity and driving down costs. Users have rock solid data with which to make decisions and the Cognos administrators are focused on continuous improvement. They can barely keep up with what their business users want from them. But this is where BI administrators want to be.
What great BI administrators do:
- Focus on value to the users – It’s easy to focus on the data to information chain, but the real measure has to be whether or not it’s transformational. Can users identify sustaining value to the business through BI? For example, those companies that have successfully created extranets for their customers have typically seen an increase in revenue and profit from it.
- Listen and act on user feedback – They actively solicit user feedback and act on it in ways that shows users they’re listening. They let users guide change and help set priorities.
- Measure what matters – Having the right tools and the right metrics in place is critical to success. The ability to identify and track report failures, broken lineage, missing objects and overall performance is critical to user satisfaction.
- Help sell the BI vision – BI is successful when it changes how people use information. Administrators need to help users know what is available and how to use it.
- Focus on all uses and users – BI has value to the whole organization and what it does. Limiting its focus means limiting its potential success to the enterprise.
- Do less but do it well – They do not try to do everything but focus on the main things and do them very well.
People skills make or break BI implementations. In terms of the determinants of success, data and technology represent only 25% of success*. The remaining 75% represents people, process, organization, culture and leadership; all people skills. Great administrators go beyond tasks and focus on outcomes that drive business results.
* Information Masters by John McKean
Image by M4D Group
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