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The Wild West of Reporting: Agility Gone Awry

agility gone wrong

At this point, enterprises have seen it all. The evolution of data collection and reporting has experienced its share of ups and downs over the past six decades. The very idea of business intelligence was born back in 1958 when a bunch of researchers at IBM, led by Hans Peter Luhn, paved the path for the democratization of data so many enterprises champion today.

The democratization of data seemed like the universal right call, but in many ways, it was an overcorrection in that it contained no nuance. As the demand for data analytics exploded, so too did the technology solutions built for citizen developers. Although these solutions meant well, they actually caused unforeseen challenges.

The Wild West of Reporting is the result of agility and data sharing going awry, an increasingly common pain point for modern enterprises. And, there is only one way to fix it.

The Wild West of Reporting, Explained

Before tools like Microsoft Power BI became a household name, organizations conducted reporting centrally and were more or less restricted to limited impact. The need for business intelligence truly became evident when central offices and finance departments built a data bridge to one another.

The data revolution really blew the top off that system, coinciding with agility going mainstream. Suddenly, everyone (sales, marketing, HR, supply chain, etc) wanted reporting. A proliferation of tools immediately followed the discovery for facilitating those needs.

Solutions like Power BI, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint had good intentions to empower citizen developers, break down silos, and increase overall enterprise collaboration. However, this overly collaborative, agile approach combined with “disruptive” technology caused the Wild West of Reporting and led to counteractive results, such as:

  • An influx of discrepancies and inconsistencies, with untrained team members creating reports.
  • A substantial increase in reports, which were further fragmented across business units.
  • Difficulty knowing where to get the information needed to make data-driven business decisions.
  • A lack of trust in data as there is no single source of truth.
  • More siloing than ever before with both people and processes.

After all of the innovation that was supposed to happen, the enterprise just ends up dealing with this reporting monster (aka The Wild West of Reporting). This leaves a very sour taste in everyone’s mouths. The blame game inevitably follows, with people blaming Power BI or the leadership team—everybody’s looking to hang this wreath of failure around something and/or someone.

The Wild West of Reporting is a major pain point for enterprises and you may be experiencing a similar situation. So, how do you gain control of this situation?

Thoughtful Governance is the Best Solution

To counteract The Wild West of Reporting, thoughtful governance is the best solution. What do we mean by thoughtful governance? It involves the following…

1. You Need a Strategy

Step 1 is likely not a surprise. You need a strategy and that strategy needs to entail governance. A well-defined Power BI strategy and robust data governance should be guiding principles for any enterprise looking to avoid being consumed by the Wild West of Reporting.

Most people don’t like being told what to do, they don’t want to feel restricted and they don’t want to be randomly volunteered for positions of ownership. Regardless of whether or not people like these things that make up a strategy, we still need them.

2. Recognize the People In the Room

Businesses are collections of people. Recognize the people who are in the room and build a strategy that serves them. Different departments within the organization and different roles within each department will all want to see different things, in different ways. There is no single “right” to display or consume data for everyone.

You need to get everybody in the room and talk over the organization’s goals for data collection, data reporting, and data storage. Then you’re ready to discuss who is involved and assign positions of ownership.

3. Set People Up for Ownership

Building a strategy for how data will serve the people of an organization is crucial, as is setting people up for ownership success. The enterprise must give people positions of ownership but also make sure they know how to own that position and understand why their participation matters.

Train them and offer them incentives to learn. This core idea of doing things right from the first time encompasses change management, coaching, and mentorship…not just data. The human element should never be undervalued.
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The Wild West of Reporting is here to stay…unless you prioritize this idea of thoughtful governance. We understand how difficult these challenges are to tackle, which is why we address governance and offer guidance in our Power BI Visioning Program.

If your organization needs help wrangling data, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Collectiv team.

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