Business people talking in officeLate last year, SAP conducted a BI Strategy Assessment Workshop at Novus International with participants from IT and business users from finance, sales, marketing and operations.  The workshop was held as a follow up to an initial discussion between Novus and SAP at SAPPHIRE NOW 2014, last May.

In my role as a member of SAP’s Global Center of Excellence (CoE) for Analytics, I had the opportunity to lead this BI Strategy workshop.  The workshops sponsors, and partners in Novus International’s reporting and analytics initiative, were:

  • Scott Luetkemeyer, Director of Finance. Scott has been with Novus International for 16 yrs. He owns financial performance management, planning and analysis and is the process owner for business intelligence and budgeting, planning and consolidation.
  • David Dowell, Sr, Director of IT. Dave has been with Novus for eight years. He owns overall SAP technology landscape and is the lead on various process improvement initiatives including reporting.

More recently I did an interview with Scott and Dave to capture their experience with the workshop. This blog post shares a summary of that interview.

What was the catalyst for the strategy assessment workshop?

Scott: Novus purchased and implemented the Business Objects Platform in conjunction with its implementation of the core SAP system, but we had only stood up the basics. Most reporting was done from core SAP modules, BPC or by extracting data from ERP and using Excel, which we realized wasn’t a best practice. So our initial focus was how to improve reporting at Novus and how to define our reporting strategy.   We had several pain points including multiple versions of the truth and users questioning data within the reports. Although we had strong reporting tools in the Business Objects suite, we were not leveraging them fully.

Dave:  But after speaking at Sapphire, we realized we needed something broader than just reporting. We already had the technology; we needed to look at our people and processes.  The concept of a BI Competency Center (BICC) really clicked when I thought back and realized that for other successful initiatives, we had the equivalent of a competency center in place. 

What were your goals for the workshop?

Scott:  We wanted to not only validate our pain points, but also to understand how other companies have addressed similar pain points.  A major objective was to understand the best practices SAP customers are using to fully leverage the SAP reporting capabilities.

Dave: We realized we had a great technology platform in place at Novus, but still were not getting the desired results in our reporting efforts.  We needed to formalize a BI strategy and we wanted it to be business driven and aligned with business needs.  We also wanted to understand all the aspects of a BI strategy – beyond the technology – and how to execute it. 

What benefits did you get from the workshop?

Scott: We developed a much broader understanding of what our BI strategy should include and how to execute it with the right organization and governance using a BICC. We also learned how our power users would work with and become extended members of the BICC.

Dave: We realized we hadn’t but needed to address the people and processes to make it successful. We had spoken to other companies that had successfully developed a reporting strategy and knew we needed a roadmap but were thinking of a technology roadmap. The workshop helped us realize we needed the governance pieces as well.  The pre-defined questions really helped focus and validate the pain points. They were spot-on; they did a good job of bringing these pain points to the forefront.

What immediate actions did you take?

Scott: We engaged certain key senior executives in the workshop recommendation discussion. This increased their understanding of the recommendations and will help us with our next step in securing senior executive consensus as we work on projects to improve our reporting and analytics processes and fully optimize the SAP reporting tools we already own.

What future actions are you looking at?

Dave: We are currently formalizing our BI Strategy. We are recommending the development of a BICC to our IT Steering Committee and we are looking at organizational models for formation.

Would you recommend a workshop to other customers? If so, why?

Scott: Yes, we would definitely recommend the workshop. It helped us understand the importance of the people and processes supporting the technology and how to organize them within a BICC.

***

David and Scott are based in St. Louis, Missouri. They and their teams participate in the SAP ASUG BusinessObjects User Group in the St. Louis area.

My role in SAP’s Analytics Center of Excellence is to help customers maximize their data and SAP BusinessObjects BI technology investments. Follow me on Linkedin and Twitter.

Learn more about BI Strategy Best Practices or BI Strategy Assessment Workshop options on the BI Customer Success website.