Business Intelligence Implementation: Plan, Software, Costs, and Required Skills
ScienceSoft has been providing a full range of BI services, including consulting, implementation, support, and BI as a service since 2005.
BI implementation allows analyzing company’s data to support decision-making at strategic, tactical and operational levels. Based on ScienceSoft's experience with real-life projects, BI implementation may take from 6 months and cost from $80,000, requiring a team of a PM, a BA, a solution architect, a BI developer, a data engineer, QA and DevOps engineers.
Each BI implementation project is unique in its requirements, and a set of steps for implementing BI depends on its scale and specificity. Based on our 17-year experience in delivering business intelligence solutions, we outline some general steps that are typical of most BI implementation projects.
Sample project scope
- Business domain: Market analysis, financial analytics.
- Data sources: 2 big data sources (data in the data sources has clear mapping rules, so no data cleaning is needed).
- Storage layer: Data warehouse (cloud deployment).
- Analytics layer: an OLAP cube (a multidimensional dataset for online analytical processing).
- Data output layer: Power BI reports and dashboards (dashboard levels: CEO, department, personal).
- Data security model: Role-based security model.
Analyzing the existing business needs and analytics environment; eliciting the requirements for the future BI solution.
Defining functional and non-functional requirements for a BI solution. These requirements can be further classified into two groups – mandatory and optional.
Best practice: During the requirements engineering step, our BI consultants interview all stakeholders to collect their needs, goals, and vision of the successful BI project implementation. It helps understand their priorities, plan the development process accordingly and as a result - provide a satisfactory end product.
Conceptualization and platform selection
- Defining the desired BI solution features, technology stack and skills required to fulfill the project.
- Mapping the proposed solution to the requirements.
- Defining data sources and ETL procedures, data quality assurance processes, BI implementation and user adoption strategies.
As a result, the project team draws up the solution architecture with a detailed feature list.
Best practice: To avoid unnecessary expenses at the development stage, we build the processes of conceptualization and platform selection on the established iterative communication among a BI analyst, a technical team and business stakeholders.
Defining deliverables, assessing risks, estimating BI implementation costs, TCO and ROI. After fulfilling this step, you get a detailed project plan, a project schedule and a communication plan.
Our practice has shown that effective BI implementation project planning can help reduce project time and budget by up to 30%.
- Delivering the back end and the front end of the BI solution.
- Implementing ETL processes for each of the data sources, setting up data quality management and data security.
- Running quality assurance procedures to avoid such problems as wrongly calculated KPIs, slow BI solution response or low-quality UX.
Best practice: To deliver a BI solution in the shortest time possible, in our projects we opt for DevOps-driven iterative development – it assures the quickness and frequency of releases without sacrificing the solution’s quality.
- Providing end users with user manuals and training sessions.
- Adjusting common workflows for each user group, etc.
Best practice: To ensure valid user screens, we schedule manuals creation after the development step is finished.
- Pre-launch user acceptance testing to check the BI solution in real-world scenarios.
- Deploying the solution in production, ready for end users to employ.
Best practice: Depending on the number of users, our BI team may use a phased approach to solution launch, according to which we release reports and dashboards to different user groups one by one over time.
Solution support and evolution
Further, in the course of BI evolution, the team can upgrade the solution with self-service capabilities, advanced business analytics and data science capabilities, etc.
BI implementation consulting
- BI implementation feasibility study.
- BI solution concept.
- BI needs business analysis.
- BI solution launch strategy.
- Optimal BI implementation sourcing model.
- BI software selection.
- Analyzing your BI needs.
- Developing a BI solution's components.
- Setting up ETL processes.
- Designing reports and dashboards.
- Adding data science capabilities, if needed.
- Conducting data management activities.
- Running quality assurance procedures, etc
ScienceSoft as a Trusted BI Consulting and Development Partner:
When we first contacted ScienceSoft, we needed expert advice on the creation of the centralized analytical solution to achieve company-wide transparent analytics and reporting.
The system created by ScienceSoft automates data integration from different sources, invoice generation, and provides visibility into the invoicing process. We have already engaged ScienceSoft in supporting the solution and would definitely consider ScienceSoft as an IT vendor in the future.
Heather Owen Nigl, Chief Financial Officer, Alta Resources
in data analytics
in business intelligence
in big data consulting
professionals on board
BI Solution for a Producer of Phytotherapy Products
ScienceSoft developed and implemented a full-scale BI solution that helped the Customer embrace company-wide ad hoc reporting, data-driven performance planning, analysis and implementation.
BI Solution for 200 Healthcare Centers
ScienceSoft created software that helped US healthcare centers and retirement homes digitalize patient and medication data processing, analyzing and reporting and improve their management processes.
BI Solution for a Multibusiness Corporation
ScienceSoft delivered a centralized business intelligence solution that allowed getting a 360-degree customer view, optimizing stock management, and assessing employees’ performance.
BI Solution for Advanced Sales Analysis
The BI solution delivered by ScienceSoft helps a multinational FMCG company identify sales trends, define which SKUs and stores show the best performance, estimate growth potential and optimize sales and marketing activities.
BI Solution for an International Real Estate Developer
The BI solution delivered by ScienceSoft allowed the Customer to integrate the data from disparate sources to enable financial analysis, spotting trends, quickly reacting to a changing environment, etc.
BI Solution for a Machinery Maintenance Entity
ScienceSoft delivered a BI solution, which helps a 25k-employee company make HR and performance management more controllable due to monitoring task fulfillment, tracking employees’ working time, watching over contract termination dates, etc.
– manages scoping, planning, executing, and monitoring all aspects of the BI implementation project.
– interprets business needs, spells out the BI solution requirements, BI solution functionality, user roles, content and modules, integrations of the future BI solution.
– models BI infrastructure components (DWH, ETL processes, BI reports, etc.) and their integration points, ensures design feasibility.
Business intelligence developer
– develops a data model, sets up ETL processes, implements and maintains data modeling tools, query tools, data visualization and dashboadring tools, ad hoc reporting tools, etc.
– transforms data into a format suitable for analysis by analyzing raw data, developing and maintaining datasets, improving data quality and efficiency.
Quality assurance engineer
– validates the BI solution: designs and implements a test strategy, a test plan and test cases for BI components, validates SQL queries related to test cases and produces test summary reports.
– sets up the BI software development infrastructure, automates and streamlines development and release processes by introducing CI/CD pipelines, monitors system security, performance, and availability, etc.
The sample BI implementation project involving building a DWH, an OLAP cube, custom-built reports and dashboards would require the following team composition:
Feasibility study – project planning stages
- Project manager – 1 FTE*
- Solution architect – 1 FTE
- Business analyst – 2 FTE
- Data engineer – 0.5 FTE
- Business intelligence developer – 0.5 FTE
- Quality assurance engineer – 0.5 FTE
- DevOps engineer – 1 FTE
Development – user training stages
- Project manager – 0.5 FTE
- Solution architect – 0.5 FTE
- Business analyst – 1 FTE
- Data engineer – 2 FTE
- Business intelligence developer – 1-2 FTE
- Quality assurance engineer – 2 FTE
- DevOps engineer – 0.25 FTE
- Project manager – 1 FTE
- Business analyst – 0.5 FTE
- Data engineer – 1 FTE
- Business intelligence developer – 1 FTE
- Quality assurance engineer – 1 FTE
- DevOps engineer – 1 FTE
*FTE – full-time equivalent (8 hours/day).
The company has full control over the BI implementation project.
Caution: The implementation project can be delayed or compromised due to the lack of the required resources.
Technical activities are partially outsourced
Hiring a vendor to outsource the design, implementation or support of the BI solution. The model presupposes your high control over the implementation project.
Caution: High requirement for in-house competencies.
Technical activities are fully outsourced
Among the major pros – no risk of the resource overprovisioning after the project completion.
Caution: High requirements for in-house PM and BA competencies.
Everything is outsourced, except a project sponsor
This model promises no idle costs and no delays due to resource unavailability.
Caution: Increased vendor risks due to increased vendor dependency.
Benefits of BI Implementation with ScienceSoft
BI services from A to Z
With our 17 years of experience in BI, we are eager to design, implement and support your BI solutions, as well as deliver related services such as data management, security, etc.
Full-fledged BI solutions
We build all the components of a BI solution: ETL/ELT processes, a data warehouse, a data lake, OLAP cubes, data visualization and reporing, as well as data science components (if any).
Proprietary BI framework
*Monthly software license fee and other regular fees are NOT included.
The cost of a BI implementation project may vary significantly from project to project. We present the major cost factors:
- Number of data sources (ERP, CRM, HRM, EHR, ecommerce software, etc.).
- Data volume.
- Number of data tables and columns used for analysis.
- Complexity of data cleansing procedures.
- Types of analytics required, presence and number of machine learning algorithms.
- Number and complexity of reports (including ad hoc reports).
- Number of dashboards.
- User permission system complexity.
- Whether big data is to be analyzed.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and IT service company headquartered in McKinney, TX, US. Since 2005, we’ve been providing our customers with BI services, including BI consulting, implementation, supporting and upgrading a BI solution, or getting regular data analysis and reporting on a subscription-fee basis. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001-certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee cooperation with us does not pose any risks to our customers’ data security.