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Business Intelligence Strategy - Identifying BI Execution Risks

Having worked as business intelligence consultants to companies with revenues ranging from $100 million to $30+ billion, we’ve helped these companies reduce or mitigate BI execution risks by proactively identifying commonly-found  gaps in execution capabilities.  In our book The Profit Impact of Business Intelligence, we discuss our analytical framework for identifying these gaps.  In this blog post,  we’ll provide a brief overview of the framework  and provide a simple risk-reduction checklist you can use at your company.

Business Intelligence Execution

A BI strategy must clearly identify any gaps in the company’s ability to execute a multi-year business intelligence initiative, including:

  • gaps in BI and data warehousing technical abilities;
  • gaps in business units’ ability to change their business processes to leverage BI; and
  • gaps in the company’s ability to align and govern a multi-year BI program.

Business intelligence programs are complex initiatives with multiple workstreams, including:

  • organization and management
  • technical infrastructure development, maintenance, and operations
  • iterative BI development
  • data governance, stewardship, and quality
  • change management
  • business process improvement

Gaps in any of these areas can derail even the most promising BI program.  Accordingly, we recommend a thorough BI Readiness Assessment as a key component of the business intelligence strategy formulation process.  There are different frameworks that companies can use, and there is no industry-standard approach.  At DecisionPath, we use a web-based readiness assessment survey of business and IT people in a client company and in-depth technical interviews with the IT team.

Business Intelligence Risk Reduction Checklist


  1. Identify how top management views the importance of BI to your company, which speaks to the level of commitment to aligning, funding, and governing a multi-year BI program.
  2. Identify business units’ willingness and ability to effectively change key business processes to leverage better business information and analyses, which speaks to whether an investment in BI will create business value.
  3. Identify IT’s ability to adapt its policies, infrastructure, and methods to meet BI critical success factors, which speaks to whether or not business intelligence projects can be delivered on time, within budget, and with the full intended scope of business information and analytics.
  4. Determine whether there is a well-designed approach to BI program management and to the placement of the BI team within the larger enterprise, which speaks to the ability to execute multiple BI, technology, and process improvement projects in a synchronized and effective manner.
  5. Determine how the data governance approach is aligned with the BI development approach and whether it is appropriately scoped, which speaks to the ability to maintain focus on timely BI development  to create business value, with data governance playing an enabling role that doesn’t  slow down BI projects.
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While there are many more detailed items to consider as part of risk reduction, we’ve found that the five items discussed above are very useful to consider during BI strategy formulation.  A great BI strategy paints a clear picture of how BI can be used to create business value, and it is also positive and practical about potential barriers to success.


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