Business intelligence may have transformative potential, but it’s also a significant investment.
Too often, that investment goes unrewarded. Last year Gartner found that 70% of corporate business intelligence initiatives fail before reaching ROI.
Even when projects succeed, they are used by less than half of the team.
The lesson to be learned from this isn’t to avoid business intelligence, though. There’s too much to be gained from using data to build a dynamic, factual model of operations and customers.
Instead, executives should address one of the root causes of BI failure: internal resistance and a general lack of adoption.
Try these approaches to build team support for business intelligence.
Use Success Stories to Build Enthusiasm
Employees have a full set of regular duties to handle. Learning and using business intelligence adds more to their slate.
A well-designed system will save them time and effort once established, but they need to be motivated to put in the effort to learn new tools.
Business intelligence seems like an esoteric concept to some. It can be hard to see a direct connection between data and results.
Instead of throwing out dry statistics, frame business intelligence in terms of what it can do for the team using real examples.
Before early initiatives, find success stories from competitors or comparable organizations. Use those to build excitement for the upcoming project.
Once each phase of the business intelligence project is finished the results can be marketed to the internal team to keep that positive momentum going.
When pitching business intelligence to the team, keep reviews specific but short. Choose clear metrics that demonstrate the actual effects of the project without getting bogged down in details.
For example: “Sales teams closed 23% more contracts last quarter using the new lead management system.”
Integrate BI into Daily Workflows
There’s no incentive to change if staff can default to the old system. People get comfortable in a routine, even when it isn’t effective.
They prefer to stick to what they know rather than learn new procedures.
Nudge resistant team members out of their rut by removing the option to use old systems whenever possible.
Don’t disrupt everything at once, but do have a schedule for phasing out old tools and switching to new ones. Publicize the schedule so it isn’t a surprise when old programs won’t open.
At the same time, make it easy to adopt business intelligence.
Be sure users are properly trained on the new tools, to include putting reference materials where they can be easily accessed by everyone.
Sometimes resistance stems from embarrassment or unfamiliarity, so also refrain from criticizing team members who need extra training or refer to training material frequently.
Create Business Solutions, not just High-Tech Tools
Misalignment between business needs and tool function is a leading reason for lack of adoption.
IT gets an idea for something they can build to collect new data, but it isn’t geared towards an actual business goal.
The product becomes busy work that distracts staff from core functions.
Business intelligence tools need to address specific pain points order for the team to use them.
They should have a clear purpose with an established connection to existing business goals. It’s also important that the new tool is demonstrably better than the current system.
If the tool takes ten minutes to update every day and the old system took five minutes twice a week, it won’t be adopted.
Along the same lines, favor simplicity in function and design. Don’t build an overly complicated multi-tier system only engineers can understand.
Aim for a unified dashboard with intuitive controls and a straightforward troubleshooting process.
Remember that the Team are Vital Stakeholders
Finally, don’t overlook the value of employees as stakeholders in any business intelligence initiative.
They have “on the ground” knowledge of internal operations that can guide the creation of a more targeted system. Take advantage of their expertise early in the development process.
Include key internal team members when gathering stakeholder input during discovery.
Go beyond management and choose representatives from the groups who will use the tools after release. Solicit and give serious attention to team feedback, both during and after release.
Bringing the team in from the beginning does more than build better software. It creates a company-wide sense of ownership.
When team members feel they had a hand in creating business intelligence tools, they become enthusiastic adopters.
Build Support, Not Resentment
Above all, keep the process positive. Encouraging adoption of business intelligence doesn’t have to be a battle of wills.
Focus on potential gains, not punishment for failing to fall in line. Bring the end users in early, listen to their feedback, and build a system that helps them as much as it helps the company.
When the team is excited – or at least convinced of the product’s value – they’re much more likely to adopt business intelligence in the long run.
Every level of operations can benefit from business intelligence. If you have a project in mind, we can help make a compelling case for BI that encourages everyone to get on board. Sit down with one of our experienced developers to find out more!