Relationship management key to successful BI

Clear TCO and vendor interaction required

An organization's business intelligence project will fail if the relationship management team lacks political clout or is starved for resources, according to industry analyst firm Gartner.

Speaking at Gartner's BI and Information Management Summit in Sydney today, senior analyst Rolf Jester said the biggest reasons BI projects fail is the lack of balance between vendor-user trust and control, and loss of predefined goals.

Jester said business must outline project TCO and should build user-vendor interaction into SLAs or risk being walked on by vendors.

"Political skills are just as necessary as technical or managerial skills for successful projects," Jester said.

"An equal balance between trust and control needs to be maintained or you will be either walked on by your suppliers or you will get everything you asked for which, without vendor input, may be exactly what you don't want."

"Somewhere between 3 and 10 percent should be spent on the relationship management team [because] these are the people who will maintain clarity between your external and internal providers and management," he said, adding the biggest point of failure occurs when these areas are insufficiently funded.

Jester said outsourcing is a viable option; however, it shouldn't be considered a cheap alternative as management overheads are far higher and relationships are more difficult to maintain. He said the ability to manage multiple outsourcers will be a massively sought-after skill as businesses increase blending local resources with offshore services.

According to Jester, business should establish predefined goals and perform vendor reference checks before emotional attachments can be established.

Gartner research indicates 84 percent of local businesses are undertaking a BI project without a sourcing strategy and are "heading for trouble".

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