The value of a Business Intelligence Competency Center
Much has been said and written about the value of designing a special BI expertise center, the so-called Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC). Thoughts are divided on the topic. The challenge is making sure the separate BI departments, operational BI teams, and the existing IT department are properly attuned. We definitely see the value of the BICC. We’re regularly hired to design a BICC to take organizations’ Business Analytics, BI teams, and BI departments to a higher level.
Increase the performance of your BI department and BI teams
If you’re considering giving Business Intelligence, BI teams, and BI specialists a more formal status by designing a BICC, we’re eager to help you take the next step. Our advisors know exactly how to make a BICC shine more brightly than a regular BI department, and we know how to make mediocre BI teams perform better and even excel. One of our solutions is more data-driven working.
Six practical questions about a BICC and the role of BI teams
So you’re considering setting up a Business Intelligence Competency Center, but a lot of questions still loom, such as:
- Which tasks, skills, and competencies need to be accounted for in a BICC?
- How should a BICC be positioned relative to Data Science and Big Data?
- Where in the organization should business analysts be placed?
- Which BI team should maintain the data warehouse?
- Which decisions does the BICC manager make, and what is their formal authority?
- Who should the BICC manager report to?
The trick is finding the answers to these important questions in order to design and implement a BICC. This division should fit seamlessly inside your organization, and not be the odd department out.
What is a Business Intelligence Competency Center?
According to Gartner, who introduced this term in 2011, the BICC is a cross-functional team with a permanent and formal structure within the organization. This BI team has clearly defined tasks, roles, and responsibilities within the organization. They guide processes in order to support and promote Business Intelligence within the organization.
What is the mission of the BICC and BI department?
Advancements in knowledge have led to more and more strategic tasks being assigned to the BICC and BI department. The BICC is expected to develop an overall strategic plan, including BI priorities, together with the business. At the same time, it defines demands from the data quality and the governance of Business Intelligence. What has stayed the same for years, however, is the promotional role that the BICC plays in propagating the BI philosophy, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and continuous improvement using data analytics.
Why do you need a BI Competency Center and special BI team?
Often, Business Analytics and reporting is spread out throughout various branches of the organization. Every department has its own business analyst or developer. They even use different BI tools much of the time. Standardization and consolidation of the Business Intelligence function across the organization will lead to improvement and greater efficiency. Your competitive edge can greatly increase.
The 4 main tasks of the BICC
The BICC functions as a kind of radar that’s continuously scanning for valuable data, relevant information, promising BI applications, and usable data-driven technology to make the organization more intelligent and data-driven.
The BICC is also responsible for the daily BI operations. Within the BICC, aside from defining the BI strategy and BI roadmap, the following tasks and responsibilities are important:
- Communicating about the use and possibilities of BI: the BI Competence Center, and especially the BI manager, will continuously have to bring the benefits of the BICC to the attention of the management. They will also have to come up with practical applications for BI and report on them regularly.
- Implementing structure, standardization, and alignment: the BICC keeps BI management within its boundaries and facilitates the exchange of knowledge. The BICC, in conjunction with IT, also provides standardization and alignment of the BI tools and methods. Standardization is a must when various departments work with a wide variety of BI tools from different suppliers. But standardization doesn’t mean one size fits all.
- Determining applications and developing business cases: The BICC, in conjunction with senior management, will set clear priorities and determine a BI road map and planning. The BICC determines which advantages and business cases are present in the organization. What level of intelligence can the organization insert into which part of the process? What are the most valuable insights that can help the organization make or save millions? Which types of BI applications and analytical models have to be developed at which time?
- Daily operations in the front and back office: The BICC typically steers the business analysts who are responsible for the definitions of indicators and making reports and analyses. The BICC is roughly divided into a front and back office. The front office ensures usability of the BI platform, protecting definitions, describing the desired functionality, and making reports and analyses. The back office takes care of the BI infrastructure.
Positioning BICC in the organization
In order to safeguard the BICC governance, the BICC has to be managed by the direction, especially when the organization wants to achieve a high level of maturity. That’s necessary, because you’ll be working across multiple departments, business units, and disciplines in a BICC.
Oftentimes, the BICC falls under the stewardship of the Chief information officer (CIO) or financial director. That doesn’t have to be a problem, although it may lead to a one-sided approach, which makes it more difficult to successfully apply BI company-wide.
BI manager with a bird’s eye view
As the organization achieves higher levels of BI maturity, the BI manager will have to take on more of an advisory role, and perhaps also a managing role in the area of knowledge management, strategic management, innovation management, and change management. That requires a very talented BI manager who has a bird’s eye view and excellent management skills.
At the same time, they have to know a lot about the all the disciplines united under a BICC. The BI manager is a bridge builder who has to be able to unite the divergent interests of BI departments and other business departments.
16 different roles and competencies in the BICC
In order to make the intelligent organization, the BICC, and BI teams function as well as possible, the roles have to be clearly defined. That also goes for the tasks, responsibilities, authorizations, and underlying co-operation in BI departments. Those role descriptions can also be used to design the BI Competency Center.
Effective BI teams and tightly managed BI departments are characterized by their multi-disciplinary nature. The consist of at least:
Basic roles of BI teams in the BICC
The roles mentioned above all play a prominent role on the BI stage, within BI teams, and eventually in the BICC, to varying degrees. The BICC can be divided into so-called basic roles and additional roles. The broader the role’s responsibilities, the more work there is for that role in the average BI project.
Ideally, the different roles and functions know each others’ problems, experiences, ambitions, philosophies, plans, and expertise. That will only help the functioning of a multi-disciplinary BI project team. They also have to be able to speak each others’ language, so that they can quickly switch tasks.
The crucial role of the sponsor in setting up a BICC
One specific role deserves mention when it comes to the BICC: the sponsor. The sponsor is a future user of the BI system. They may only involve themselves later when the possibilities of BI are beginning to take shape or have partly already proven themselves.
Normally, the sponsor is a member of the direction or the management team or the Board of Directors. The sponsor plays an important role in BI projects that transcend departments or business units, where various interests have to be weighed against each other. They support the concept of one version of the truth. They, together with the business analyst, will have to design the first comprehensive reports or analyses, and can generally quickly whip one up.
The sponsor promoted the BI system within the direction and the management layer under it, and plays a key role in the control group, especially when determining future increments and the actual use and application of the information and knowledge in the organization.
Core competencies sponsor
The sponsor sees the importance of BI and the BICC for the organization on the level of performance improvement, innovation, and organizational development. They’re an enthusiastic person who can sell the BI system within the organization. They make things happens and have excellent management skills.
What are the benefits of a well-designed BICC and BI team?
A Business Intelligence Competency Center allows you to share knowledge, technical expertise, and user experiences much more easily, greatly increasing the value of BI within your organization.
What can we offer you?
We can help you to find the answers to the key questions. Step by step, we will facilitate the process of designing the BICC organization by defining roles, setting responsibilities, tasks, and formulating the necessary analytical & technical competencies. We can also help you with hiring staff on an interim basis.
“Thanks to the expertise and experience of Passionned Group’s consultants, our project went quickly and eficiently.”
Jan Maarten van der Meulen
Interested in our BICC services?
Contact us and discover how we can help you with Business Intelligence competence centers and a successful implementation. The specialists of Passionned Group have over 15 years of experience in designing and implementing BICCs. You can also follow our 3-day BI workshop to take the right steps and achieve success with Business Intelligence management.