Can Business Intelligence Be Agile ?

The agile manifesto and it’s underlying principles set out four key values for developing software solutions:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

If an organisation is willing to accept these values for software development then how much more important should adoption of them be for the development of business intelligence solution upon which critical business decisions are made.

Furthermore business intelligence projects do not see themselves as ‘developing software’ because they use tools to generate ETL and tools to generate reports. Management teams also shy away from the idea that their business intelligence teams are developing software because they have long since moved away from in-house development to implementing packages. This also goes some way to explaining why management are so keen to buy Business Intelligence packages.

The reality is that ALL business intelligence projects are producing a massive amount of software. This software mainly consists of interfaces between systems (ETL) and interfaces with users (the reporting tools). Because the system is not aligned to a single business process individuals use the system in ad-hoc rather than structured ways. The BI system is also the recipient of information from all the source systems and therefore is constantly subjected to change that is outside it’s control.

However the organisations business intelligence system is built the reality is that there will be millions of lines of code, massive amounts of change and demanding users doing things in unexpected ways.

The question that should be asked is not ‘Can Business Intelligence Be Agile?’ but ‘Developing Business Intelligence solutions requires an agile process – can my company organise itself to successfully use agile methods to develop the required solution?’

This article was originally published on BIonRails, another Data Management & Warehousing website

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