The concept “agile” was introduced in the early 2000s for use in the field of software development. During its inception, there were 17 software developers who came up with better development methods. The result was a manifesto with the following points:
- Favor individuals and interactions more than processes and tools
- Favor working software over comprehensive documentation
- Favor customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Favor responding to change over sticking to a plan
When used in software development, agile exists within a finite timeframe that applies iteration to the software delivery process and builds software incrementally. Agile is against trying to deliver the whole project in one go.
Agile Has Been Adopted in Industries Other than Software Development
Today, agile is more than a software development methodology. In fact, agile exists in a vast array of industries as a methodology for project management. Thanks to its focus on being adaptable rather than rigid, and being collaborative instead of adhering to a hierarchy, agile is an excellent project management methodology.
How to Apply Agile in BI
Modern BI is challenging the status quo of software development that had the following steps: analysis, design, construction, testing, and implementation. Before agile came along, there was minimal communication between clients and developers.
Additionally, developers using agile focus more on technology and data rather than important questions such as: which questions should be answered with the available data to aid in decision making? What do the users need?
By adopting agile, companies can enjoy higher BI investment returns as well as an increased capacity to adapt to changing business needs. Let us now look at a basic implementation of agile in BI.
Stage 1: The Concept
At this stage, you create a general vision for BI. According to agile marketing, this means that the project documentation should be light. All you need to complete this step is to have a whiteboard meeting and define the general direction.
Stage 2: Project Initiation
The initiation stage is where you start the project. Here, you start to actively involve stakeholders in the project. Additionally, you teach the stakeholders how agile works. You lay down plans for support and funding, take note of important business requirements, identify the available data sources, and identify which reporting dashboards to use.
Finally, you should prioritize the key business requirements and needs based on the available time and budget.
When assessing the possible BI software to use, you should determine whether a cloud-based or on-premise solution is the best for you. Finally, you should select the appropriate BI system.
Stage 3: Development Iterations
When building the solution, you should be releasing a functional system that adapts to the evolving stakeholders’ needs. During a sprint (a one to a three-week interval), you will go back and forth between stage 3 and stage 4 (below).
On completing development and releasing the product, you will move on to production. It is imperative that when building the solution, to keep stakeholders actively involved, create reports collaboratively, use the just-in-time modeling, and test the BI tool for effectiveness in a small internal company group.
Stage 4: Product Releases
During product releases, you should push the latest version to production. Afterward, go back to stage 3 (iteration), then stage 4 (release). When doing product releases, you should do the following: keep the stakeholders involved, run tests, complete the documentation, run a pilot release on a small group, train the users, production staff, and push the software into production.
Stage 5: Pushing to Production
During production, you operate and support everything that resulted from the construction of production. Here, you need to keep an eye on the system, create and monitor reports, and dashboards. You also identify any product defects and the necessary product enhancements.
Additional Tips for Applying Agile in BI
With the above agile BI framework in mind, you can use the following tips for maximum results:
Tip 1: Keep Stakeholders Actively Engaged
It is very important that you keep your stakeholders actively engaged in every stage of the project. In agile, both product owners and stakeholders get to see what the team does during each sprint. By involving stakeholders from the beginning to the end, you increase your overall business value.
Tip 2: Use an Evolutionary Agile Approach
In software development, it is a fact that things will always change during the product’s lifecycle. This is why it is important to follow an evolutionary Agile approach to ensure that you meet all your clients’ needs.
Tip 3: Create Documentation Only When Necessary
Unlike traditional approaches that require a lot of time planning and creating documentation before starting, agile only uses daily stand up meetings and scrums for communication. Through documentation minimization, teams can swiftly respond to obstacles and redundancies.
Tip 4: Accept Change
If there is a requirement change that happens late in the project lifecycle, welcome it as it might give the project a serious competitive advantage. Agile BI allows the team to easily alter course even as the project continues.
Tip 5: Run Tests throughout the Process
Unlike the traditional waterfall approach, agile BI is a continuous exercise rather than a single implementation. The only constant changes. As such, it is vital to keep returning to the dashboards to ensure that data is accurate and is used to make decisions.
Tip 6: Select the Right BI Software
If you go through the whole Agile process, we call it Agile shore as outlined in this post, then you owe it to yourself to choose a BI platform that is designed with agile in mind. The BI software should also support quick iterations, make basic features easy to use, allow for easy delivery to large audiences, support collaboration, and make it easy to publish reports.
With the Agile software development process in business intelligence and analytics, you can embrace change rather than see it as an obstacle to development. This results in more flexibility that sets the project up for success in an ever-changing industry. By following the Agile approach, you will be in a position to implement agile intelligence and enjoy its benefits.