Out with the Long-Term Strategic Plan

Business Intelligence is about Balance

… unless it’s continually balanced with demonstrating short-term value.

Balance. Much of life is about balance. Not only in BI, but on a dozen fronts. You’re going to have a hard time being successful until you learn the art of balancing long-term and short-term gain. In both our business and personal lives, it’s a basic human tendency to forgo delayed gratification for immediate, hear-and-now returns. Forget saving, just buy on credit. Forget the long-term vision, we’ve gotta deliver on this quarter’s numbers. Or how about this on (we’ve all experienced it)… Forget the long-term customer relationship, we need 2% greater margin on this deal to turn that cell in the spreadsheet to green. When said here, it’s shocking to think that anyone would sacrifice the potential referrals, turn the brand impact negative, and jeopardize repeat/annuity business to avoid only achieving 90% of the target margin goal for a single project … but it happens every single day.

I view these philosophies as imbalanced to the near-term and subsequently dangerous. But in building the Business Intelligence program in most organizations (or in the failed attempt thereto), I routinely notice the opposite trend …  Plans and roadmaps that are long on strategy but very short on immediate return.

Let’s face it, you’re never going to get the opportunity to deliver on your long-term, three-year strategic vision unless you justify / demonstrate some serious returns long before that. The fact is that nobody is going to fund an initiative for that long (if at all) that is packed with theory and promise, but doesn’t return on the investment. It simply does not matter how amazing the new world is and how much value exists there to capitalize if you starve to death on the ship trying to reach it.

If BI is to be successful, we have to knock out quick wins along the way to continue to justify the existence and perpetuation (read: funding) of the initiative. So, here’s my tip of the day:

For every year in your strategic BI roadmap, define and execute three short-term wins with the following characteristics:

  1. Choose tasks that can be implemented in 30 days or less with no complex dependencies
  2. Establish clear, quantitative ROI expectations for these tasks which can be measured / demonstrated 30 days after implementation
  3. Target tasks at the pain of key players in your organization who are skeptical about BI’s capacity to help them

In so doing, you’ll take a huge step forward in justifying your initiative, proving its value in the short-run, and winning detractors to your cause. Trust me when I tell you that all three  vital stepping stones toward your no-doubt awe-inspiring vision for BI.

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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