Selection of a Business Intelligence Team
“Ability to work under stress, adaptability, willingness to learn” – this is not a quote from a job posting, but the desirable qualities of Business Intelligence team members. While selecting a project team, it is worth betting on specialists with a particular personality profile.
A Business Intelligence team is a real team for special tasks, where flexibility and the ability to react swiftly – very often under pressure – are very important. All this is required as Business Intelligence projects are dynamic and people with high adaptive abilities succeed here.
The ability to acquire knowledge of new tools and using new systems is a valuable personal quality within Business Intelligence teams. Nowadays, in the context of the employee market, it is hard to recruit a single IT specialist, let alone an entire team of specialists with particular competences, both technological and soft ones. Outsourcing services, for example the outsourcing of entire Business Intelligence teams, address issues in this area.
Business Intelligence competences
“Success has many fathers”, as the saying goes. When it comes to Business Intelligence projects, it gains a positive undertone, because in fact there are many people who contribute to successful implementation: team members with particular competences essential in completing a complex, multistage project. Business Intelligence projects call for skillful planning (pre-implementation analysis and planning), carrying out implementation- and configuration-related tasks, and the support of a project team which works on complex Business Intelligence implementation in the post-implementation phase.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not sufficient to engage a couple of developers for such an undertaking. As I mentioned earlier, Business Intelligence projects are complex; hence, more people with a wide range of competences are engaged. Even small implementation teams consist of a group of specialists, such as business analysts, developers or testers. Team members are selected according to the complexity of implementation – in some cases, in order to ensure fluidity, it is vital to complement the team by adding people with more specialized competences. Let’s have a look both at small and bigger, extended project teams.
Small project teams
Each Business Intelligence project calls for the involvement of a person responsible for contact with business representatives, sponsors or future users of the system. The analyst gathers information based on which he determines formal and informal requirements in the context of implementation. Next he provides other project team members with these requirements in the appropriate form, for example in the form of case studies or business model processes. In everyday work, a business analyst encounters people who lack technical knowledge, therefore it is important for him to be an outgoing, thorough and patient person. As he mediates between the project team and the business, he should formulate his ideas with ease and have the ability to ask the right questions to the right people
The role of a Developer in Business Intelligence means a wide range of competences. As a core member of the Business Intelligence project he is responsible for the implementation of a business model provided by the business analyst, as well as the implementation of logical requirements and projecting the visualization part – meaning reports and dashboards to be used in the future by users of the system. A Business Intelligence developer – referring to a classical definition of development roles – can be compared to the role of Full Stack Developer or Software Architect. In most cases Business Intelligence developers are defined as ETL developers (standing for extract, load, transform), because they are engaged at each stage of working on data: while gathering, loading and transforming the data.
A Tester is the last member of a small project team. He takes care to verify the functioning of a tool and runs essential tests in order to deliver a high-quality product. The tester’s tasks are analogical to those within other project areas and are mostly related to discovering bugs and defects and the reasons for their occurrence.
Some companies, trying to save time or avoid the necessity of engaging a tester, delegate testing tasks to a developer, who then makes amendments so as not to create iterations of a new version. Is assigning the tester’s tasks to a developer a good idea?
A developer who acts as a tester faces the conflict of implementing software in which he has found bugs resulting from his previous work. It is hard to remain objective to the results of our own work – not only in IT. Journalists’ work is verified by editors; the entire training squad works to analyze the results of professional athletes. Similarly, a tester’s role should remain independent. In the natural process, bugs or failures should be reported by a tester, not a developer who is sort of responsible for their occurrence.
Bigger project teams
In bigger teams, we can additionally specify roles related to managing an environment and a cycle of software development. These roles are: Release Manager, System Administrator and Team Manager.
- Release Manager
While realizing bigger projects, more specialized team members and control over the software implementation process are required. In the case of Business Intelligence projects, which in many cases are highly complex, the product’s pathway from development to implementation is longer and verification at many stages is required. The cycle of development, testing and implementation repeats many times, therefore it is important to bring the entire process under the supervision of a specialist in this field. The role of a Release Manager, who is responsible for the correctness of the iteration processes, addresses those needs. In a nutshell, the Release Manager is responsible for releasing new versions of scripts or applications.
While realizing bigger projects, it is worth engaging a person responsible for all technical aspects, such as proper configuration or the functioning of the servers, access to the environment and the data, as well as proper functioning of services or system processes. Very often the administrator’s role is held by a developer, but here – unlike in the case of combining tester’s and developer’s roles – there is no conflict related to the verification of one’s own work. Specialization in administration is relevant to ensure the fluidity of the process without the need to search for a person responsible for putting out fires at the very moment when building data warehouses is the main priority.
- Team Manager
An extended project team needs a person who could organize work and take care of all non-technical aspects essential for successful project completion. The Team Manager is the head of a project, who puts everything together. In Business Intelligence projects he assigns tasks, supervises their realization and documents the work done. Such a person reports to the client about progress, manages conflicts in the team and is responsible for communication with the client.
Read also: Effective communication in IT outsourcing
Entrepreneurs willing to make conscious business decisions are increasingly eager to implement Business Intelligence systems. Taking into consideration the complexity of Business Intelligence projects, it is worth entrusting their realization to teams with clearly defined roles and indispensable competences. There is a huge business risk in building Business Intelligence teams of random people with unverified competences. It is worth betting on synchronized, experienced Business Intelligence teams. As we know, there is power in teams, but their diversity is the key to success.