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The Elements of a Successful BI Roadmap

by Richard BlahunkaWednesday, June 2, 2010

BI Roadmap Lifecycle

A BI Roadmap describes a proposed path of BI evolution in pursuit of implementation of an information delivery strategy.  A BI Roadmap is often the end result of conducting a comprehensive BI program assessment, which qualitatively and quantitatively describes: first the Current State of an existing information delivery environment (“Where are we today”), then is followed by the Future State vision of what the organization would like their information delivery environment to be (“Where do we want to be tomorrow”). 

In essence, the BI Roadmap life cycle begins with the Current State assessment, followed by the Future State assessment, and then ends with the Roadmap that describes how the organization plans to proceed from Current State to Future State. 

Figure 1: The BI Roadmap lifecycle consists of three sections depicting
the logical flow throughout the entire BI Roadmap lifecycle -- Current
State assessment, Future State assessment, and Roadmap.  

A BI Roadmap charts the “how-to” path toward establishing or improving all of the necessary BI “moving-parts” to achieve the Future Vision.  These BI moving-parts are many -- including architecture, processes, data, teams, vendors, budgets, technologies, meta-data, training, sponsors, models, users, governance, dashboards, etc.  Once fully inventoried, the complete list of moving-parts is usually long and extensive, which can easily make a comprehensive BI Roadmap cumbersome, overly complex, and difficult to manage. 

BI Roadmap and BI Multi-Year Plan

Given that a comprehensive BI Roadmap will contain a large number of moving-parts, the question arises, how much detail does a successful BI Roadmap need to contain? 

Naturally, that depends.  It depends upon the purpose of the BI Roadmap, itself. 

A BI Roadmap may be used to sell the concepts of the path to the Future State to executive sponsors who may have little interest in the details.  In this case, the BI Roadmap may be very conceptual and high-level -- outlining the key “pain-points” to prioritize, major technology components, broad annual budgets, general milestones and timelines, etc; but lack the specific details of actual implementation; such as, technology and methodology selections, application development, monthly budgets, weekly milestone dates, detailed project plans, and task resources and assignments.  

As a consequence, the conceptual BI Roadmap may be augmented with an optional, much more specific and detailed BI Multi-Year Plan.  A BI Multi-Year plan is not necessarily intended for executive sponsors, but rather is intended for the actual Program Managers charged with successfully achieving the goals of the BI Roadmap and managing the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month details along the path during the journey from Current State to Future State. 

So, taking a step back, the complete and comprehensive BI Roadmap lifecycle is comprised of four collective documents (or sections):

  • Current State Assessment (Physical Assessment)
  • Future State Assessment (Conceptual Assessment)
  • Roadmap – How to Get From Current State to Future State (Conceptual Plan)
  • Multi-Year Plan – Detailed Implementation Plan (Physical Plan)

Figure 2: The complete BI Roadmap lifecycle flow consists of four logical sections -- Current
State assessment, Future State assessment, conceptual Roadmap, and detailed Multi-Year Plan.  

Naturally, if the BI Multi-Year Plan is omitted (as in Figure 1), then the BI Roadmap document, itself, will be a much less conceptual and much more detailed plan. 

Multiple Classes Help Organize All The “Moving Parts”

As mentioned above, each of these four delivered BI Roadmap lifecycle sections will include many functions and components (moving-parts); too many, in fact, to effectively manage without some degree of organization.  In order to better manage the assessment of the Current State and Future State, and the resulting Roadmap and Multi-Year Plan, all of the disparate moving-parts can be grouped into logical categories, or Classes, for better organization and management. 

The number of Classes (categories) can vary depending on how the moving-parts are defined and grouped, but I have found that five Classes (categories) allow for effective planning, management, and communication of the BI Roadmap plan. 

Within each of the four BI Roadmap lifecycle sections, five Classes (categories) of functions and components are identified: 

  • Class 1 – Vision and Strategy
  • Class 2 – Architecture and Infrastructure
  • Class 3 – Command and Control
  • Class 4 – Content
  • Class 5 – People and Organization

Figure 3: These five Classes of functions and components organize all of the
“moving parts” (functions and components) of deploying BI solutions into logical categories.

Class 1 - group all of the functions and components that relate to Sponsorship and Program Management, especially Mission, Vision, Business Drivers, Risk Management, and Financials.  A reasonably inclusive list of BI Roadmap components within Class 1 includes: 

  • Executive Sponsorship and Support
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Strategy
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Business Alignment
  • Business Drivers / Business Levers
  • High-Level Performance Metrics
  • High-Level Business and Dashboard Requirements
  • Risk Management / Risk Assumptions
  • Value Proposition
  • Budget
  • Financing / Funding Sources
  • Ownership
  • High-Level Planning
  • Program Management and Planning (High-Level)
  • Accountability / Responsibility
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