This content originally appeared in TDWI. TDWI members can see the original here.
With so many teams “going agile,” it’s important for your BI team to keep a few things in mind that will help your agile transformation go more smoothly. This series, “10 Mistakes to Avoid In an Agile BI Transformation”, will show you how to prevent the most common pitfalls I’ve encountered in my experience as an Agile Coach.
Data warehousing teams in particular are used to working “behind the scenes” and not necessarily having regular and frequent interaction with those who will use the data in the end (our customers). Therefore, when data-focused teams take on an agile transformation, they often believe they are the only ones who need to learn about this new way of delivering valuable BI results. They get BI-specific agile training and start working differently without including their stakeholders and users in the transformation.
When this happens, the team is unable to welcome changing requirements, work with customers daily, or use working BI results as the primary measure of progress—all important tasks for successful agile teams.
Agile teams have very different relationships with their customers than those who work in a traditional “waterfall” approach. The users who will work with your results need a chance to understand and buy into the new way of working and to know why this new way will benefit them. Without this understanding, they will continue to engage with the BI team the way they always have—asking for everything up front, expecting you to read their minds about what they really need, and waiting to lay blame when you don’t.
You can avoid this mistake by including customers from the beginning in your agile BI training, process design, coaching, and other transformation activities. Even if your BI team is only exploring agile and not sure whether to take on a full transformation, it is best to include at least one customer in all of these activities so you can all see how the system changes when using an agile approach. I suggest inviting a “friendly” customer, one who understands the value BI brings to the organization, has a strong business driver that would benefit from your team frequently delivering working BI features, and is committed to helping you succeed. If together you decide to move forward with your agile transformation, then you have an ally in the organization who will help others see the benefits of working in an agile way.