[Agile Guide] – Agile Business Intelligence – Why Agile Works with BI

As the need for business intelligence grows, companies need ways to make smarter decisions based on historical, current, and predictive data. Business intelligence (BI) isn’t just reporting. Better business intelligence is better decision-making. Sometimes called a decision support system (DSS), the way BI systems are built can have major impacts on the way a business moves and adjusts to demanding market conditions.

Sounds like serious business? Yes, it can be.

Sean McClowry tells us that it is about time for Agile BI to take the stage-front. Since Agile prides itself in collaboration, frequent releases, accommodating change, and relentlessly managing scope, it just makes sense that as BI becomes more important to businesses, an Agile approach should be the way to go.

“BI professionals have long been advocates of 90-day increments… However, incremental isn’t agile no matter how short the increments or how fast the iterations. The agile difference is in participation and interaction–not just building things quickly, but building the right things quickly. The participative model of agile brings with it the promise of breaking away from the “just another report” syndrome that plagues virtually every BI team.” – Sean McClowry

So how does Agile BI work?

  1. Iterative, Incremental, Evolutionary – We build the system in small increments or “chunks” of user-valued functionality. And we evolve the working system by adapting to frequent user feedback.
  2. Feature Driven Development – What users of BI systems care about is the presentation of, and access to information that either helps them solve a business problem or make better business decisions. Every iteration must produce at least one new user-valued feature.
  3. Production Quality – Integrate testing and QA early and continuously into the development process.
  4. Barely Sufficient Processes – Traditional styles of BI development are rife with a high degree of ceremony. Agile BI emphasizes a sufficient amount of ceremony to meet the practical needs of the project (and future generations) but nothing more.
  5. Automation – The only way to be truly agile is to automate as many routine processes as possible. Agile BI teams seek to automate any process that is done more than once. The more you can automate, the more you can focus on developing user features.
  6. Collaboration –Agile business intelligence acknowledges that there is a broader project community that shares responsibility for project success. Frequent collaboration between the technical and user communities is critical to success.
  7. Self-Organizing Teams – The agile project manager’s role is to enable the team to work their magic; and to facilitate a high degree of collaboration with users and other members of the project community.

“I have found agile framework especially useful in the BI context where development (enhancements to BI landscape) and support (sustenance of the existing BI infrastructure) happens concurrently.”

Some great points here. Business intelligence is moving at a rapid pace and Agile can help with this.

“Non-Agile BI platforms and applications will be increasingly challenged to keep pace with a world moving at lightning speed.”

[HT: SmartDataCollective]

4 Replies to “[Agile Guide] – Agile Business Intelligence – Why Agile Works with BI”

  1. Great points here. We at ModCloth.com have been using Agile practices in our BI team, with limited success in the beginning and greater success lately.

    We have realized many of the benefits listed here. The biggest benefit for the team has been clarity around priorities and a manageable workload. We’ve eliminated requests going to an individual and that person feeling responsible for completing it ASAP. Now, we have a backlog that is cultivated by the team lead weekly, and stress levels are back at a normal level.

    We’re still struggling through defining a minimum viable product and getting people comfortable with the “barely sufficient processes” section, but I think we’ll get there.

    I highly encourage other teams considering implementing Agile practices to go for it.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! Looks like you guys are really taking on some of the Agile principles that bring value to your particular team! Thank goodness for backlog management!

      In regards to your minimum viable product, you could go through a Story Mapping Process and Value Stream Map process for your product owners to go through. Having your PO’s sit together and simply ask the question: “What is the 1 (one) feature that you absolutely need” is a great place to start.

  2. Pingback: Computics - L’ABCs du BI agile

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