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Best practices when offshoring business intelligence Essay

Ted Kempf in his article in VarBusiness credits Gartner Dataquest with the following definition for Business Intelligence; “a user-centered process for of exploring data, data relationships and trends, thereby helping improve overall decision making” (Kempf, 2001). US companies today are setting up business-intelligence technology for the purpose of processing the incessant flow of information they receive. These companies gather this information so they can maintain and build customer relationships and make sound business decisions in a timely manner.

A Gartner Dataquest study revealed that the primary reason for companies investing in business-intelligence applications is to ensure they have available the information to assist them in making real-time business decisions. Even though the current trend is to outsource IT initiatives overseas to save costs, the rationale in doing the same for business intelligence is questionable. This is because business intelligence (like data ware housing) is not a technical exercise and requires business knowledge. It is iterative and business-focused in nature (Consilvio, 2003).

She insists that offshoring BI presents the biggest risk for ETL (extract, transform and load) because it is grossly underestimated. For this reason, Robert Mitchell, in his article in Computerword, even goes as far as saying that the threat for offshoring is overstated (Mitchell, 2006). In her article for Computerworld, Maria Consilvio lists some of the best practices for offshoring business intelligence. They include: ? Set up tight specifications ? Start with an approach similar to staff-augmentation

Define service levels which are appropriate for your expectations. ? Keep an onshore presence as representation for the business knowledge. This enables the life cycle to be quick turn. ? Ensure that the development team is reactive to feedback so that business feedback can be translated to technical specifications. ? Offshore the long term projects with more stable requirements. ? Ensure requirements are defined to such a level that the technical resource does not necessarily have to have the business knowledge.

Determine beforehand the restrictions placed on exiting the contractas such contracts may not have defined end or start dates as a result of the fluid nature of BI. ? Audit offshore tools and, as much as possible, insist on scalable tools. ? Equip the onshore team with systems integration, project management and deliver management skills In support of the best practice procedures above, William McKnight of McKnight Associates suggests the following as excerpted from his 2003 article in Computerworld:

ON-SITE * Set up benchmarking and service-level criteria * Establish business rules * Maintain (create/translate) business knowledge * Involve users in data warehouse decisions * Ensure application support after development OFF-SITE * Set up an enforcement mechanism for business rules * Establish expertise in tools, such as data cleansing, automated extractors, dashboards and real-time delivery * Application development * Application support and project maintenance REFERENCES Consilvio, Jean.

(2003). BI: Last to Leave. Computerworld, December 12. Kempf, Ted. (2001). Business-Intelligence Apps: Companies want them, but are emerging integrators prepared to deliver? VarBusiness, November 6. McGee, Marianne Kolbasuk. (2006). You Vs. Offshoring — U. S. tech pros are surprisingly upbeat, and pay is on the rise. But the job outlook is anything but warm and fuzzy. InformationWeek, April 24. Mitchell, Robert L. (2006). Why Good Technologists Are Hard to Find. Computerworld, March 20.


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