For as long as business intelligence (BI) has existed, organizations have made significant investments in high-performing platforms – only to find no one will use the solution. Why? For one, end users cannot find information quickly, or at all. Two, the information they do find isn’t relevant. Three, they expect their BI systems to work as effortlessly as popular search engines and social media, which yield results within seconds of a query, and the systems often don’t. So users drift away, the system goes stale and the effort the organization has put into building the system goes to waste.
Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is intrinsically valuable to any organization. The ROI is not in how you drive your BI program, but in how effortlessly your organization can achieve a nirvana-like state where collaboration really happens.
To alleviate the user-adoption issue, the Protiviti Data and Analytics group has devised a simple six-step process that can be easily put in place to ensure that organizations can maximize use of their data. The FRA2ME methodology adds the foundational elements organizations need to ensure that end-user adoption is not lost in the hubbub of building a state-of-the-art BI solution.
The FRA2ME Methodology
FRA2ME focuses on the importance of understanding end-user workflow and use cases to drive relevance, in turn ensuring usefulness and adoption. To understand the methodology, it helps to explain what the FRA2ME acronym represents:
- Creating a BI program that is trustworthy, performs well, and is accessible when and where the end user needs it is essential to user adoption. Strong foundational elements, such as governance, speed, security and reliability, create user trust in the data.
- A BI solution should focus on the business user, the use case and the desired outcome. The final solution put in place must be relevant for the purpose it was built to serve, or it will fall out of use.
- We have learned that organizations need to build, adapt and perform outreach to achieve that collaborative state of nirvana. With an eye to the cadence of change, continuous improvement should be delivered incrementally to support end-user engagement. And the technology required to support an agile BI team must be agile, too.
- Gaining and promoting advocacy is a very important step in the FRA2ME methodology, accomplished through creative, well-defined efforts. One client internally branded their BI program to gain visibility, in turn generating advocates while growing adoption of the system. The client’s success was solidified by activities such as social media posts, competitions among users and other promotions that encouraged users to try the new system. The goal: a scenario in which users say, “I don’t know how I managed before this solution” or “I can’t imagine living without this solution.”
- Keeping an eye on user activity and data usage is essential to establishing a positive track record for reliable data, in turn building the trust of business users.
- Training on new solutions should be situational, contextual and personal, which means using the kinds of training tools users relate to best.
At the end of the day, what organizations need is to delineate between information and insights. Information is, by its very definition, informative, and some information might be useful. But insights are actionable and adaptive and help achieve the desired objectives.
There are many areas where a methodology like FRA2ME can help organizations achieve insight, including:
- Process optimization (“How will we anticipate and reduce costs?”)
- Operational efficiency (“How can we increase sales and improve customer satisfaction?”)
- Financial visibility (“How can we better understand and improve profitability?”)
- Sales effectiveness (“What steps are needed to increase sales and improve supplier service-level agreements?”)
- Consumer behavior (“How can we engage our customers more effectively? What consumer trends are developing in our industry?”)
One Size Does Not Fit All
A BI solution right for one organization may not be appropriate for another, and that’s where the FRA2ME methodology is particularly useful, as it helps pinpoint where to focus. One of our clients, for example, used the methodology to cut through the distractions of an upcoming IPO to quickly implement a real-time, interactive and highly intuitive dashboard providing visibility across 50 metrics and their related tolerances, all while launching a new manufacturing facility. The client saw 100 percent effectiveness in its first 90 days of operation at the new plant.
Another client, the fastest-growing optical retailer in the U.S., needed to understand how to best segment and target customers while also determining when and where to open new markets. The FRA2ME methodology allowed us to identify how this client could effectively build a trusted data platform and implement customer-analysis models that provided greater visibility into customer behavior for targeted sales and marketing campaigns, improved customer retention, and optimized site selection for new stores.
A healthy, profitable company is in a constant state of change. And the cadence of change, at least from a BI perspective, is to build the solution that is best for current needs and resources, adapt the solution and the organization, as monitoring and measuring will define how well the solution is working and how the organization is responding to it, and outreach by developing those advocates, the “raving fans” who drive user adoption at the grassroots level.