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Five goals for implementing Oracle Business Intelligence Applications

Selecting the right approach and handling change management are two of the five important topics when installing Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA), according to one BI consultant.

Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA) can give an organization a deep analytical view into how a business is performing, according to Sameer Agrawal, BI practice leader at San Jose, Calif.-based IT services firm Jade Global.

Agrawal recently listed five areas organizations should focus on when implementing OBIA.

The right Oracle Business Intelligence Applications implementation approach

Two major factors Agrawal stressed when implementing OBIA is determining what data warehouse you want to use and making sure your reporting system is in line with your applications.

Agrawal said that if you already have a fully functional data warehouse, “don’t try to replicate it in OBIA.”

“I would recommend in this scenario that you deploy the [Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition] reporting layer,” he said. “You really cannot replace and do better than what you already have in a three- to six-month implementation window.”

On the reporting side, Agrawal said he sees situations in which a company’s E-Business Suite project is evolving through a lifecycle, and design changes are often necessary. Companies must be aware of those design changes and make sure the Oracle business intelligence reporting remains in line with them.

Realize the full potential of OBIA

Agrawal recommends against using OBIA for data extracts. He also said that users often want to export data to Excel, but it’s important to make sure that the massaging of the data is done in the OBIA framework and not within Excel after a data export.

Getting different departments to play by the same BI rules is also key to optimizing OBIA.

“The key is to educate (users) on how the data model empowers them,” he said.

Use the right resources so the OBIA implementation works

Agrawal said an OBIA installation project should include three traditional project resources: subject matter experts, business analysts and skilled technical resources.

But he also suggested three additional resources: pilot or superusers, a liaison between the transaction team and the process owners, and someone who understands the end-to-end BI picture.

“What I’ve seen in many implementations is they have a DBA [database administrator] that understands the database perspective and an (E-Business Suite) business analyst, but you rarely find someone who understands the big BI picture.”

Handling change management and training

First off, getting executive buy-in provides the muscle behind the implementation, because then employees know the project has backing from higher-ups.

It is also important that employees realize how the OBIA implementation changes BI reporting. No longer should they be looking elsewhere for the data they need.

“This is an information-on-demand model,” Agrawal said. “The user is empowered to look at the data whenever they need it. They should not be asking someone else when they’re going to get a report.”

To that end, training must include sessions on how to use OBIA to get needed data. Employees must have enough practice with the tool to understand that they can trust the data. Conducting hands-on workshops with end users and one-on-one sessions with management is also key to getting buy-in.

Agrawal also suggested creating self-service training tools -- for example, a bunch of short video clips on the company intranet site that employees can use to learn about the BI applications.

Post-production support

Finally, it is important that implementation not end with installation. The company needs a responsive support staff that can point users to training materials and fix software bugs, which are inevitable. Occasional user training workshops are also a good idea to refresh existing employees’ memories on the BI application features and teach new employees the ropes.

“The initial OBIA implementation is the start of a journey,” Agrawal said. “It is not the final destination.”

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