Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 16: Is Michael Jackson still alive? (aka Doubting Thomas/BI Skeptic)

One of the biggest challenges of Business Intelligence is dealing with the die hard skeptic who in the face of overwhelming evidence will still question the veracity and reliability of the information (just like the people who believe "Michael Jackson is still alive") .

How does one deal with these Doubting Thomases ("BI Skeptics")? Well, you can never truly satisfy them but the following measures should help keep their skepticism in check:
  • Clear traceability of the data flow from the source system to the presentation layer. Educate users how the data flows from the source to the final report(s). Make that part of end user training. Include a link to a high level data flow diagram from the presentation layer.
  • Reconciliation reports generated and widely disseminated on a regular basis. These should be user friendly and match check totals, counts etc. for key data chunks with discrepancies clearly flagged.
  • Error Handling process: which identifies and flags any significant data drops/misses and enables initiation of corrective action much before it hits the presentation layer.
  • Complaint Handling System and Feedback loop which allows the skeptics to raise their concerns and track them getting addressed.
  • Ensuring the presentation layer/tools clearly display the filter criteria used to generate the displayed report.

With all that in place you should have allayed most fears (Most, but no winning over the "Michael Jackson abducted by aliens" kind :-) )

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