The high failure rate of business intelligence (BI) projects has been well documented. Recent reports from Gartner, Forrester, and others estimate that between 60 and 65 percent of such projects fail to deliver on the requirements of their customers. In the context of a CRM deployment, failure rates are higher when the CRM team adopts a "build it and they will come" mindset. All too often, the emphasis is on delivering CRM reporting capabilities and the underlying CRM data structures—with little or no attention paid to enterprise architecture or BI strategy.
It's after one or two projects fail to meet expectations and executive leadership starts to get involved that the lack of an enterprise vision is seen as a root cause.
The Intersection of CRM and BI
In most cases, an incremental approach to a BI deployment is the most successful way to achieve alignment between business groups and IT. Using a BI maturity model as a guide can be helpful as business usage naturally becomes more sophisticated and the data infrastructure becomes more complex. The BI maturity model also serves as a critical component of the enterprise architecture that resides at the intersection of CRM domain knowledge (business process improvement, or BPI) and IT support for the BI platform.
The BI Maturity Model
These four stages describe a maturity model that can grow and adapt according to organizational priorities over time:
Stage 1: Initial
At this initial stage of CRM reporting requirements, the focus is extremely tactical and internal to the CRM team. Maturity begins to originate from concerns or frustrations relating to accurate, complete, and timely access to specific data elements, concerns regarding data quality, or as a result of inconsistent business rules.
The concerns and frustrations expressed are internal to the CRM team; they survive for the duration of the project, are generally lost after go-live, and have no visibility from business groups.
Stage 2: Managed
The next stage of maturity is reached when the initial CRM reporting requirements touch more projects and might begin to cross business domains.
During this stage, the initiative gains some "stickiness" within IT with the goal of integration points between CRM and the BI deployment. The integration points are tactical, to meet a specific business need.
It's a necessary second stage in terms of the evolution of the CRM reporting requirements from a departmental solution into an organization-wide solution. It remains a CRM-centric initiative, but the breadth will now begin to incorporate business analysts and power users in the design of the reporting solution.
Stage 3: Enhanced
CRM Strategic and BI Tactical
At the enhanced stage of maturity, the CRM and BI teams have an established track record, and some business groups are pushing for self-help reports.
As the CRM reporting requirements expand, a natural outcome is the early adoption of best practices in report design, navigation (ease of use), and concerns regarding data quality that have to be addressed. At this stage of maturity, early adopters will start to question which reports should be developed within the CRM system and which should be developed within the BI platform.
As the CRM and BI teams begin to work more closely, some redesign of the metadata repository might be necessary to support a query and analysis style of reporting. There will be requirements for CRM reports to access external (non-CRM) data, and general BI reports to access internal CRM data.
Stage 4: Visionary
Enterprise (CRM and IT) Strategic
The final stage of maturity is the goal for the organization, but it doesn't imply the work of the CRM and BI deployment is complete.
At this stage of maturity, the emphasis for IT is data management across the organization, with a mature metadata repository that contains definitions and rules for CRM reporting requirements and general BI reporting.
The BI team is responsible for complex reports and dashboards and for the metadata repository, the CRM team for operational reporting requirements, and business groups are largely self-sufficient in terms of Q&A and parameterized (self-help) reporting requirements.
At a conceptual level, this defines the scope of the enterprise architecture as it encompasses CRM and BI. It should also include data integration, master data, and IT operations. With this three-way collaboration in place, the organization realizes the benefits of treating information as a trusted asset supported by common business processes, common business rules, and definitions, via an IT infrastructure that is scalable, secure, supportable, and robust over time.
Although the maturity model is outlined in four distinct stages, it's really a seamless maturity process that organizations will move through at their own pace. To be most successful, organizations should not skip over any stages; however, some organizations may begin the process at different stages depending on their current needs.
Regardless of the decisions made, there are quantifiable and quality benefits to both business groups and IT through the utilization of the BI maturity model.
Peter LePine is the managing director of the BI and Information Management practice at Emtec.