Troubled woman, BI projects failIf you Google “business intelligence failure rate,” you’ll find varying stats on how successful (or rather, unsuccessful) business intelligence (BI) implementations are. One set of statistics estimates that projects fail half the time, while another set estimates they fail a whopping 70 to 80 percent of the time. While the stats vary depending on who is conducting the survey, who they surveyed, and how they define “failure”, the fact remains: BI implementations often fail to meet expectations.

There are myriad reasons that BI projects fail, from inadequately defining the need at the outset to improperly setting and managing expectations during the execution. But generally speaking, we can classify project failures into 4 broad categories:

  1. A process failure
  2. A technology failure
  3. A project leadership failure
  4. A failure in the interaction between these three areas

When we talk about the “process” behind your BI deployment, we are talking about three different components: defining the need that is driving your BI project, developing your project, and deploying it.

When we talk about the “technology” behind your deployment, we are talking about the tools that enable the processes: collection is the technology tool for defining your need, assembly is for the process of development and delivery is for the process of deployment.

When we talk about “project leadership,” this is really about the management of three different areas: projects, teams and expectations.

It’s important to have a solid foundation in all three of these areas if your BI project is to succeed. You’ll see that we’ve constructed what we call the “Triangle of Success” (Figure 1) to show how these three areas support each other in order to achieve success.

Figure 1: The triangle of success

Figure 1: The triangle of success

Coming up in our next three blog posts on this topic, we are going to discuss each side of our Triangle of Success, and examine the components of each area that you need to master in order to succeed. We’ll also outline some of the major pitfalls you need to avoid so that your BI project doesn’t get derailed.

However, you’ll find that even if you fully master these areas, that alone is not enough to succeed. Don’t forget our fourth category on why BI projects fail – it’s often a failure in the interaction between the three areas. BI projects don’t move in a siloed fashion from component to component in our triangle. There are multiple handoffs involved, and people who move in and out of projects depending on their roles and responsibilities.

That’s why after we examine each side of our triangle, we’ll have a final blog post that discusses the importance of collaboration in BI projects and how it ensures a smooth interaction between our three areas.

You can read some of our other blog posts on BI implementation to ensure you’re on the right path to a successful BI deployment.

Blog posts in this series:

  1. Why BI Projects Fail – And How You Can Avoid Failure through the Triangle of Success
  2. The Triangle of Success – Understanding Process
  3. The Triangle of Success – Understanding Technology
  4. The Triangle of Success – Understanding Project Leadership
  5. Why Collaboration is Key to Enabling the Triangle of Success