Agile Approach to Business Intelligence as a Way to Success

Agile Approach to Business Intelligence as a Way to Success

J. Fernández (Technical University of Catalonia, Spain), E. Mayol (Technical University of Catalonia, Spain) and J.A. Pastor (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-050-7.ch007
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Abstract

In this chapter we present an overview of several methodological approaches used in business intelligence (BI) projects, as well as data warehouse projects. This study reveals that some of them reveal weaknesses, since they are not specifically defined for BI projects, and thus they do not fit specific BI project characteristics or user requirements. These may be the main cause explaining that there is not a broadly accepted BI methodology by practitioners. Even though the goal to find the “best BI methodology” is difficult (or impossible) to meet, we think that any best-class BI methodology may follow an agile approach to better fit BI project characteristics and practitioners’ requirements. In this sense, we have analysed BI project characteristics as well as agile principles defined in the Agile Manifesto, and we have identified a strong relationship between these two sources. In this chapter, we show this strong relationship between the so-called critical success factors for BI projects and the Agile principles. Therefore, based on our analysis, we consider that successful BI methodologies must follow an agile approach.
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Background

BI is a somewhat ambiguous term that encompasses different acronyms, tools, and disciplines: OLAP, Data Warehousing, Datamarts, Datamining, Executive Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Neural Networks, Expert Systems, Balanced Scorecards, and many others. It is difficult to give an exact definition of all the terms under the BI umbrella, since they are very interrelated and sometimes there are confused and used indistinctly. Even if BI is a multifaceted concept and supports different interpretations, all of them have three characteristics in common: they provide information to control business activity, they give support to decision making processes and the information provided by BI is business language oriented.

BI provides information to control business activity regardless of where the information is stored. BI is an important component of the overall management information system, which controls the proper operation of business processes and activities. In a classical organization (see Figure 1) transformation or operational processes are affected by external events and environment perturbations (market changes, substitute products, new legislation, etc.). Under these situations, operational processes usually require some kind of control, adaptation and correction. Without this supervision, business processes may tend towards disorganization and chaos.

Figure 1.

Organization as a system

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