This comes out a day late, so my apologies to everyone. As promised, today I will be discussing how I put the AGILE strategy and the Deferred Ownership model to work in a real-life scenario.
Due to the confidentiality of the data I work with, this example may be a bit vague on the details, but I hope that you will forgive me this as we go through it.
I began work at my organization in July of 2017. The position of Business Intelligence was net-new for the organization, and the department had some ideas of what they wanted, but no real direction to achieve it. We narrowed it down to begin with a single piece of automated reporting for one of the largest departments and to develop it as a proof of concept.
Given that I was allowed autonomy in developing the report, the data model and the infrastructure of the BI program, I had the leeway to try out this model of mine.
I reached out to the manager of the business user group and set up a one to one meeting to discuss their needs, and the challenges that occurred before my arrival. I came with an idea of what they would want, based on research of the operational reporting needs of my industry (a must), and determined what the core elements they needed were, as well as what the extended elements, or ‘nice to have’s’ they wanted to report on, and what would be value added elements that they hadn’t necessarily thought of reporting on previously.
I took this away from the meeting, and immediately pulled out my BI tool; in this case Power BI, because Power BI is the best. (Seriously, the best) I created a design for the report they wanted in both an interactive online, and a print layout version, loading up fake values and selecting visualizations that best displayed the information they wanted to convey. Gauges, bar graphs, grouped columns, and a couple card values. This took maybe two hours. I didn’t bother to pay attention to font selection yet, or colour theming.
I set up a meeting the next day with the manager and team leads and brought the mock up for a show-and-elicit-feedback. By doing so, I brought the business user past the planning phase and directly into the design phase! I was able to get immediate feedback on fonts, layouts, colours, visual selections, whitespace, and everything else about what their product would be. They ended up wanting a drill-though pie chart (Ugh!) but it allowed them to design with something as a baseline. Something they could see and feel and interact with.
Moving on to building was mostly about pulling the data, cleaning it up, and building the model for reporting; the data mini-mart (future blog post) that provided the back-end functionality. I, and one other member of the team, spent about a week building up that data model based on all the information gathered from the first two meetings, and assumptions based on the data profiles completed in the ETL process.
A week later, we launched to a limited user group consisting of the manager, and primary reporting clerk for the department. We gave it to them with ZERO instruction or training, along with the caveat that they were to use it, play with it and do everything in their power to break it. With that release, we asked them to set up an ongoing weekly, twenty-minute touchpoint to discuss their feedback.
We met every week, the first week was met with a data validation concern with one element, so we immediately removed it from the report, and began to investigate the data model. The second week they were finding the navigation of the drill down a bit confusing, so we changed the layout a bit to highlight it, and they were happy with the result. The next week, we returned the newly validated data to the report and added some whitespace. The next week, we added a click through definitions page, and then changed some title fonts.
At this point, they were happy. They had something that was theirs, that they designed, that they helped build and validate, and something that the business user believed in. I will say that again, they truly believed in this product.
The final steps for us in the BI group, was to have a new AD group set up, administration set to the business manager we were working with, and migrate everything to production. Less than a day of work.
Over the course of the last year, the business manager has gone on to champion the report to executive, including interactive demonstrations, and has increased the user group to the entire management staff of the organization, cementing the report and the attached definitions as the source of truth, all without any additional intervention or prodding from me or my team. I found out about the executive demo, only after receiving a piece of positive feedback from a member of the executive team in my inbox.
I built it, I helped design it, and I launched the report; but I never owned it. As long as I never owned it, I didn’t take any changes personally, I didn’t have to fight anyone to my vision, I just had to provide support, and hold some hands along the way. Exactly what I believe a solid BI program should be about.