BI tool selection | Pharmaceutical wholesaler | Cognos | BO

Step by step guide: How to migrate to a new BI tool

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Passionned Group is a leading analyst and consultancy firm specialized in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence. Our passionate advisors assist many organizations in selecting the best Business Analytics Software and applications. Every two years we organize the election of the smartest company.

Choosing a new BI tool

A large pharmaceutical wholesaler opted to implement a new BI tool, switching from their old one, in order to distribute and share management information. The company is currently using Business Objects and wants to make a change. The selection of a new tool can be finished as soon as:

  • The reference visit at another pharmaceutical wholesaler leaves a positive impression.
  • There has been an international workshop.
  • There are no major financial purchasing incentives when purchasing Cognos.

The last point concerns the purchase through locations in Germany or Sweden that already work with Cognos.

This blog describes the most important points and success factors for the implementation of a new BI front-end solution.

Business case

For various reasons, the current BI solution Business Objects (BO) no longer meets the requirements of the company in question. In the selection process, direction and management determined that the new BI solution will be used to structurally share information with business partners.

They also determined that insights have to be reusable across the entire environment. Consider definitions and data visualizations of insights. Finally, integral, role-based reports and dashboards are an important demand.

Less work and access for business partners

The first part makes the distribution of management information to business partners much more efficient, which means less manual work. That does, however, mean that the information has to be correct, validated, and understandable. It can also contribute to better co-operation between the business and its clients and suppliers.

The second and third aspects ensure that the migration of the current information provision (reporting) can be done faster than when they choose one-to-one transfer of the existing reports. Also, the third aspect is a better match for a care provider who wants to work more with care concepts, and wants to work integrally.

Step by step plan: implementing a new BI tools

In a parallel track, the back-end is upgraded to the newest version of SQL Server and the data integration solution Sagent.

1. Mapping roles and appropriate insights

Where possible, a company-wide information analysis will have to be made, with a clear focus on the current information provision with BO, based on roles, responsibilities, tasks, and the appropriate information needs. Because a lot of knowledge about this is already available and reusable, this can be done relatively quickly.

What needs to be determined: performance indicators; KPIs; dimensions; norms (and alerts) and action plans; ideally the link to the strategy, mission, and vision; and competencies.

2. Adjusting architecture

Based on this, the architecture can be adjusted, including the activities:

  • Purchasing an administrator license.
  • Designing the infrastructure (servers, capacity, memory, disk space, etc).
  • Installing the servers and the required software + configuration.
  • The (re)design and (re)building of the cubes or data marts; the data vault remains intact.
  • Defining the business logic in the intermediate layer.

3. Which roles in which order?

In the decision-making process, the project group will indicate which roles will be implemented in which order. Here they suggest using a project phasing. Every phase will deliver an increment, allowing the amount of BO reports to be phased out. Steps 4 through 6 will be executed per increment.

4. Building insights

The insights are built. This means:

  • Standards are developed with regards to use of color, format, etc. Do this in a one-time meeting with the key users.
  • Authorizations are determined for every insight, including the alerts.
  • Insights are developed and stored in a library that’s accessible to every authorized user.

5. Reports and dashboards are made

Role-based reports and dashboards are put together based on the available insights, including standardization, with alerts if desired. The same goes for drill-down paths to underlying levels of detail.

6. Other steps

  • Purchasing user licenses.
  • Writing or expanding the manual.
  • Users are trained in the best BI tools. If necessary, competencies are developed and behavior is stimulated to make co-operation and joint steering possible.
  • The organization is prepared for the new possibilities per increment, where possible adjusted. To be elaborated on later, depending on organizational advice (from users, key users, business analysts, and data warehouse specialists).
  • Evaluation and start next increment.


BI tracks typically have a high rate of “failure”. Research and our own experience has shown that only around 20% of all organizations can demonstrate success. Also, most organizations don’t use the benefits of BI optimally (35%). Organizations that perform well can achieve a percentage of 62%.

Because the company in question has extensive experience using BI and analytics, you can expect the risks to be managed carefully. But we should still consider the following pitfalls:

  • BI isn’t used structurally (very important in the context of achieving the highest possible usage rate), which means information is shared fragmented and not structurally. This can lead to BI being “abused” for list-making, for which it’s simply far too expensive.
  • There’s resistance to the concept of sharing information structurally with clients and suppliers. Business partners can’t be apprised before employees, after all. That would put too much pressure on the organization, they say. Also, the information has to be validated before it can be sent out. The real reason for this resistance can be that people are afraid to give things away and of being too transparent.
  • An important role is placed on the key users and business analysts, and the organization surrounding them, and the co-operation with ICT. BI can only work well for managers, employees, and business partners if the support (further analysis, explanation, preventing mistakes) is responsive and adequate.
  • Not enough attention paid to performance tuning, improving response times of queries and cubes.

Do you need help selecting or implementing a BI tool?

Passionned Group has years of experience in expertise in the field. We’ve developed an extensive BI Tools Survey to help you choose the right tool for your business, and our consultants can help with the implementation if necessary. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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