SAP BI support: what is successful?

by Arwold Koelewijn on October 6, 2010

Running successfully SAP BI at your company will always require thee lines of support. One for daily operations, one for changes and one for projects. Within these lines you require different skill sets which sometimes can be combined. Dependant on the size of your organization you need to determine how to deal with these requirements.

Centralization versus Decentralization
An important starting point is the location of the support organization. To centralize or decentralize, is the question. Centralization has the advantage of bundling the knowledge, but the disadvantage of a greater distance with the end-users. Decentralization is more inviting for end-users to ask for support, but has the disadvantage of skills and knowledge spread across the organization.
The best practice is working with key-users at the local offices, who act as a first line of support, and have a centralized second and third line of support, often called a Business Intelligence Competence Center (BICC).

Daily operations
Daily operations on the BI platform are required for monitoring the automated data loading. When something goes wrong, someone should be responsible for correcting the error, start the load process manually, and inform the end-users if necessary.
Incidents or issues end-users might have are first discussed with the appropriate key-users. The key-users try to help the end-users. If it turns out that the question is related to an error in the system, the key-users contact the central support organization. The central support organization will then solve the issue.

Changes
When the question of the end-user results in a request for change, this is also brought to the attention of the central support organization. Usually the request is first rough-sized to make an estimation of the impact and implementation time and resources required. Based on the rough-size, a decision is made to regard the request as a support activity or as a project activity. Typically the estimated number of days determine where the request ends up. When the change is assigned to the support organization, it will be planned and implemented.

Project
New projects can be initiated for several reasons by both the Business and IT. By the Busienss to improve the business processes (change requests) or for new business. By IT  to keep up with IT developments or improve IT processes. In general, new projects need to be evaluated and approved by higher management. On-going projects are monitored by a project board or steering committee. A project team is assembled to deliver the project. Best practice is to involve the support organisation in the project team.

Data Quality
An important topic in Business Intelligence is Data Quality. A properly build SAP BI platform will make sure that all data quality issues can be traced down to the sources. Unfortunately, the SAP BI system usually gets blamed for showing the wrong data. To prevent this as much as possible, it is important to make on a central level people responsible for checking the data. This can be done by specially designed reports for the most frequently occurring data errors.

In conclusion, setting up your BI support organization in the right way will ensure the right data quality and the right support for your organization.

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