Use-case and value-driven implementation approach
Use-case and value-driven implementation approach
Not the title you would expect in a Cubis blog? Think again! A BI implementation is only as powerful as its business purpose. When asked to set-up a greenfield BW4HANA system at a client, we didn’t just jump in and start to implement. No, this implementation was preceded by what we call ‘blueprinting the business’. Allow me to explain.
1. Implementation Approach
In order for us to understand what the business needed, we needed to understand the business first. This process was guided by the workflow depicted in the below diagram.
Overall the operation started with two parallel workflows in which we assessed both the strategic and IT situation at the client. After achieving a clear view on both these aspects, we moved onto the requirement gathering phase across the company. This was achieved by conducting workshops with several business users. From these workshops, we processed the inputs into strategic products, upon which later the implementation was planned. The next sections will go further into detail on each of these steps.
2. Strategic Alignment
The Strategic Alignment process was initialized with a ‘drawing-board-style’ analysis of the client. In this analysis, we mapped out the business flows and interactions between the individual departments across the entire organization, thereby creating its value chain.
Additionally, an assessment was conducted to identify all relevant stakeholders to the project. These stakeholders were not only important to manage throughout the project but they were also crucial a key element in gathering the data requirements from the business users. Therefore, the outcome of this exercise served as a baseline for the planning of workshops later on.
3. IT Alignment
In parallel with the strategic analysis of the client, we also reviewed the IT landscape to assess its maturity. As the client in question deploys an IT landscape with many different systems, the data flows between these various systems were a crucial piece of the puzzle. On top of that, several operational systems were concurrently under development. Therefore, we didn’t just look at the ‘as-is’ landscape but also studied the ‘to-be’ situation. Next, we examined the current BI environment and reports. This exercise resulted in a detailed overview of data fields and source systems that were being used at the moment.
To finalize the maturity assessment, we evaluated the current and desired-future governance and metadata set-up at the client.
Combining the knowledge obtained from the strategic and IT analysis, we jumped into the workshops. The purpose of these workshops was to collect all of the business users’ requirements and wishes, covering the business from end-to-end. These workshops were set up by using the ‘brown paper approach’. We started the workshop with an entirely empty brown paper. To then slightly guide the brainstorming session, we had determined three questions upfront:
- What are your department’s objectives?
- What are the current KPIs and reports you are using and/or creating?
- What are your wildest wishes and dreams?
The rest of the session was in the hands of the business users. With the use of post-its, markers, etc, we let them do the thinking and fill up the entire brown paper.
After these workshops, the gathered input on the filled-up brown paper was translated into user requirements. This was achieved with the help of user stories. The concept of a user story is pretty straightforward: you create a sentence that simply states the need for a business user in the form of:
‘I, as a ___________ , want to _______________ so that I can __________________________’
Example: I, as a sales manager, want to view a customer’s profitability, so that I can create a fitting sales deal.
All of these user stories were collected in a big Excel, containing many columns to appropriately process and prioritize the requirements.
5. Prioritisation Deliverables
Finally, we came to the core output of the analysis: the prioritization exercise. Naturally, we couldn’t achieve this based on an Excel file with a bunch of user stories. Therefore, we grouped the user stories into so-called ‘products’. The process went as follows:
First, we conducted a thorough analysis to filter out duplicates and user stories that were not really related to BI. Then, each user story was linked to one or more source systems. Finally, we grouped all user stories into these different products where each product contained a set of logically coherent user stories. Based on these products, the prioritization exercise could be performed.
In order to ensure the business had sufficient input to decide upon the prioritization, we supported the analysis by evaluating each product based on two dimensions: technical feasibility and business value. Each of these dimensions are scored based on several inputs (naturally, the considered inputs should be based upon a client’s specific environment):
- Technical feasibility: number & nature of data sources, complexity of data sources (eg under implementation, complexity of interfaces …), modeling complexity …
- Business value: possible value creation, key KPIs, business risk, existence of alternatives …
Each product was assessed overall relevant criteria, obtaining a score for both dimensions. This allowed us to map out all products on a matrix depicting business value vs feasibility.
This matrix easily identified high, mid, and low priority products. Based on this overview, the products were summarized into four separate waves, with increasing priority, where each wave represents an implementation cycle. These final four waves were then presented to the ExCom in order to get approval. Additionally, they also served as a baseline for planning and following up on the implementation progress over time.
This baseline concluded the blueprinting exercise we performed, thereby providing us all the needed inputs to start on with the consecutive implementation of the new BW4HANA system.
Blog by Hanne Meers