Having a BI system in an organization is among the top priorities for executives. It has become an essential element in gaining a competitive advantage in a furiously fast-paced market. However, no BI system can run itself and there is always going to be some upkeep necessary. Whether this is due to changing requirements, upgrades & optimization, a maturing or expanding BI community, your BI environment can become increasingly complex to maintain. Read on to see if you are experiencing any (or all) of the most common issues in a current BI environment.
#1 – It’s difficult to manage my BI licensing & control access to my BI environment
Most BI tools don’t give you a consolidated dashboard view of your current licensing. As such, administrators find it difficult to evaluate actual license usage in order to determine if licenses currently owned are over or under capacity. Either condition may engender cost impacts, which could have been prevented.
In terms of access control to your current BI environment, assuming security has been implemented per best practices, it could still be a challenge to maintain without a coherent console view. It would be useful to have a simplified view of all secured BI objects by security group, application, user perspective, etc.
#2 – It’s costly to go in and modify my ERP in order to add, delete, or modify reporting columns for the purposes of reporting in my BI environment
One of the more costly and complex pain points are the significant costs associated with the implementation of ERP Software, as well as planning, customization, configuration, testing, etc. Too little customization may not integrate the ERP system with the business process, and too much may slow down the project and make upgrading difficult.
It is highly cost effective to be able to dispense with these costly, and sometimes complex customizations, and still be able to make important modifications in your BI environment while quickly responding to your user community requirements, without impact to your ERP, or overburdening IT.
Once an ERP system is implemented, it usually becomes a single vendor lock-in for further upgrades, customizations etc. Companies are typically dependent on a sole vendor, and may not be able to negotiate effectively for their services. Even worse, the ERP can fall into obsolescence, requiring a completely new one.
Among a long wish list would be the ability to extend the lifespan of the current ERP far beyond “end-of-life”, and to be able to continue making important customizations outside of it, while still having the capacity to satisfy the BI user community.
#3 – Too much reliance on IT for routine maintenance; LOB not empowered enough!
It would be beneficial to provide business users with the ability to run certain jobs and other light maintenance tasks on demand via secured access, without constantly relying on IT to do them. Transferring some of the less complex BI maintenance tasks, such as running certain SQL jobs on demand, by securely assigning these to a few designated “power business users” would allow IT to focus more on day-to-day support.
#4 – It’s challenging to manage all of my (disparate) data sources for my BI environment and to keep them all synchronized with my ERP
Data synchronization technology is a very important part of enabling offline or staged usage of data. The complexity of the process is often underestimated. An organization needs to control and maintain its corporate data, with the aim of having it clean, consistent, complete, and synched across multiple sources and applications.
A single and unified interface with all data sources serving the entire BI environment would be a useful addition to any data maintenance plan. This, coupled with the ability of targeting any or all data sources for a complete, incremental, sequential, parallel, on-demand and/or scheduled refresh via jobs.
#5 – How do I keep track of all of the changes made impacting my BI environment?
Auditing and logging all changes is a crucial capability that allows for management and monitoring of any tasks impacting your BI environment. This functionality would be useful in the event where a roll back of any users’ erroneous changes would be required. Additionally, it would serve to reduce troubleshooting time and precisely target unintended modifications to the BI environment.
The capability of keeping a complete audit trail of all the changes made in BI would certainly be useful, not only for auditing purposes, but for recovery and restoration. A few examples of tracked changes or tasks can include:
- Job execution by job name and user
- Refreshes/Inserts/Updates to any tables impacting BI by table name by user
- Security or permissions to BI applications by application name by group by user
A BI system is an evolving entity. This evolution brings about challenges which should be addressed if you would like your BI environment to function as it was implemented in an optimal manner and as per best practices.