It is all about embedding

by Arwold Koelewijn on September 21, 2013

Last month I did a co-presentation at the EAIR (European Association for Institutional Research) forum 2013 in Rotterdam, with Marc Dolman of the Maastricht University. In this presentation we were talking about the success of the project Be Informed compared to other BI projects that had been done at the university. Marc and I were the project leaders of this project, and we believe that the success was mainly caused by the way the project and the results were embedded in the organization.
The results of the project are still benefitting the University today, as were shown based on the user survey a year after, and of the examples given of the importance and convenience users have of the system.

So it is all about embedding. But how?

In our experience, there are 3 conditions that contributed the most to this successful BI project:
1… to ensure usability
2… to ensure support
3… to ensure visibility

To ensure usability is all about making sure the delivered reports are usable. And this is not an easy task, because the aim is to make reports on central systems that can be used by several departments for their specific purposes. We achieved this by using general principles (go MAD, template design, central systems are the source, UM strategic perspective, to name a few), to find the balance between central en apartments requirements. Second we made use of the knowledge of a proven success implementation, UvAdata at the University of Amsterdam, to get a quick start on the requirements gathering. Thirdly, the development and testing process were agile and aimed at quality.

To ensure support is all about making sure that stakeholders on several levels are involved in the project and are given the opportunity to give feedback and suggestions. Also, to ensure the future support, a new pivotal position was created between the decision makers, content experts and IT.

To ensure visibility is all about creating stages in your project with deliverables. The project was planned for a year, but already after 6 months the first reports were delivered to the users, users were trained and started using them. With these stages the steering committee was able to see that promises of the project were kept and had the opportunity to steer the project.

In conclusion: in this project the conditions for a successful implementation were: ensuring usability, ensuring support and ensuring visibility.

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