The best way to justify funding for a BI project

The best way to justify funding for a BI project

One question that I’m often asked is ‘how do I justify funding for a BI project?’ The answer I give is that to win funding you need to stop thinking about BI as a project.


Don’t spend everything on the infrastructure


Many businesses think of BI as infrastructure but that’s the shortest step to failure. The reality is that BI should deliver long-term value to the organization. BI done well is not a one-off project focused on infrastructure.

It’s like building a house. The foundations are important, but if you only have the budget to build a house then there’s no point building the foundations for a skyscraper. By the time you’ve paid for the foundations and infrastructure there’s not enough money left for the tiles and fittings.

It’s the same with analytics – organizations spend a lot of money on the infrastructure and there’s often not enough money, time, and organisational energy left to deliver insights to the business.


Delivering insights will deliver value


I was recently at a Chief Data Officer event where I surveyed people about where their organization got the most value from their BI analytics. The results showed that the most value was in delivering insights yet all the time and resources were spent in infrastructure. How can you get funding when you’re not delivering what the business values?

To get funding you need to deliver what the business wants first – insights. To justify funding for BI, forget the tools, roll up your sleeves, and focus on delivering what the organization needs to know to be able to run the business better.

To achieve this there’s no need to put in place an enormous amount of infrastructure. Start small and deliver insights faster. Perhaps hire a great data analyst and use existing data to answer some of the organization’s unanswered questions. What do the CEO and business leaders need to know to run the business effectively?

Don’t get me wrong, tools are valuable – Yellowfin is an infrastructure provider after all. But we want our customers to build long-term value through the use of our product. Rather than thinking about what tools they need to deliver value, I believe BI teams should spend more time thinking about who their customer is and what they value. Our tool in and of itself doesn’t add value. It’s how it’s used that adds value and it’s that value that organizations are willing to pay for.

Every dollar you spend should incrementally increase what the business understands. By proving your value to the business you create a continuous cycle of more funding. That’s a much easier sell than trying to get all your funding upfront for one massive infrastructure-led project.

Here’s an example of a small analytics project delivering big benefits >