Should You Build BI Before You Clean Your Data?

Jon Oesch, VP, Business Intelligence Sales

A New Look on how Business Intelligence Can Fix Your Data Quality Problems

Implementing a business intelligence environment against data you don’t trust?  Sounds counter-intuitive, some would say: ‘just plain wrong.’  How could you possibly build a data warehouse and cubes on data that might not be accurate?  You shouldn’t of course, and that is the point. Accurate data is the non-negotiable cornerstone of any BI effort.

But accurate data does not happen by itself.  Data needs to be enthusiastically governed to a state of truth and reliability, and this is a big job.  So big in fact, that attempting a global data governance initiative can cost so much time and energy as to obliterate the initiatives it was designed to support in the first place.

If your company has an urgent need to manage to 3 or 4 KPI’s around inventory, the 6 months that it might take to understand your inventory data and make sure it is correct is a very long time.

But there is an even bigger risk.  Think about how you find out that you have bad data.  It is almost never by putting data into a system.  You only find out about bad data when you try to get data out.  So this begs the question – if you are going to embark on a data governance initiative before you roll out BI, what exactly are you going to govern?  How do you know what to fix, if you can’t see that it is broken?

Nothing highlights inconsistencies in your data like trying to build a dashboard against it.  Nothing will focus data governance and cleaning efforts like clearly understanding the numbers you need to drive your business.  Not just the numbers themselves, but what are the components of those numbers?  What were the transactions that placed those numbers into the system?  What are the processes around those transactions? Are they contributing to accuracy, or is there something buried in there that is making the numbers faulty?

There is magic in seeing those imperfect numbers appear in an analysis because now you have a clue about what data is broken. BI will give you an effective data governance roadmap, with the starting point in the form of numbers that your subject matter experts and other stakeholders will recognize as wrong.  It is the BI environment itself that makes your numbers accessible.  And with that accessibility, data quality issues become glaring and the root causes behind them become easier to trace.

Implementing BI typically comes in the form of setting priorities:  ‘we need to gain visibility and control over our AR balances first.’  ‘Next we need to tackle inventory, then sales.’  It is an iterative approach to requirements gathering and BI artifact delivery where you see the data flowing out of the system in report form, so you know what to tackle, piece by piece, in terms of data quality.

When companies install a BI solution, they should be prepared to discover that it will highlight all the inconsistencies in their data.  A common one is sales orders that are posted without being attributed to either a customer or a salesperson – revenue is unaccounted for.

‘How can this be?!!” is the usual refrain.  ‘We have business rules around posting invoices that are supposed to prevent this from happening.’

Whether it was an innocent work-around or a full-on policy breach, something, somewhere caused those business rules to be violated.  What once was a hard-to-unravel mystery is now easy to spot, and easy to solve.

These types of discoveries are very hard to make otherwise, where the tendency is to look at data governance as a whole and try to fix the data in the same holistic way.  That becomes an overwhelming project that can stop other initiatives in their tracks.

To read more about how Business Intelligence can help drive data governance take a look at our whitepaper; Implementing Business Intelligence – Why You Should Build BI Before You Clean Your Data. In it we share 4 steps on how to conduct a Data Governance initiative, and highlight one of our favorite management tools – the RACI matrix.


Jonathan Oesch

Loves ERP, Loves Data. Loves what happens when data from a transaction processing system gets turned into usable information that people can rely on; “It’s like that chemistry lab in college where you walk in with your raw supplies and leave with a perfectly round rubber ball.”

VP of Business Intelligence Sales at Jet Reports. Speaks, writes, blogs and tweets about BI strategy – sometimes in his sleep.

New Buzzword! Data Warehouse Automation

Jon Oesch, VP, Business Intelligence Sales

A survey by IDC and DM Review gives us these scary statistics:

  • 17 months is the average implementation time for a BI project
  • 5 months needed on average to deploy the first usable BI artifact
  • $1.1m is the mean, annual expenditure on a BI project for companies with more than 1,000 employees
  • 31% of BI projects are declared successful
  • 36% confidence rate that the right data is available to the right people at the right time

Those numbers seem unrealistically horrible, yet as a company that builds and deploys BI environments for hundreds of companies each year, we see IT groups and business users facing them all the time. That is why Data Warehouse Automation (DWA) is such an exciting concept. (more…)

Business Intelligence Education Series

Brandon Boyd

The Jet Reports Business Intelligence Education Series is back by popular demand. Join Jet Reports’ own Business Intelligence experts, Brian Petersen and Lars Rasmussen, and fellow Microsoft Dynamics Users for 30 minute, informative webinars to learn and collaborate on the latest topics in BI.

Our Director of Business Intelligence, Brian Petersen will lead the US webinars. Brian has been with Jet Reports for almost 9 years and manages our team of BI consultants. Lars Rasmussen, Jet Reports Senior BI Analyst, is based out of our European office and he will lead the webinars in the UK time zone. (more…)

Happy Holidays!

Brandon Boyd

Happy holidays from your friends at Jet Reports! It’s been a great year, thanks to our wonderful customers and partners. Please enjoy this holiday animation we created for you.

We wish you a prosperous 2015 filled with new insight and endless possibility.


Thinking About Upgrading to NAV 2015? Checkout This New eBook for a Definitive Guide

Janice Taylor, Jet Reports Canada

Catapult, a Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner, has teamed with Jet Reports and other industry experts to create a resource for companies that are looking to upgrade their Dynamics NAV systems to NAV 2015, and want some guidance about where to start and how to manage the process.

Free to download on the Catapult website, the eBook, titled “Planning Your Upgrade to Dynamics NAV 2015: The Definitive Guide” provides a comprehensive framework for completing a successful NAV upgrade. (more…)

Jet Reports 2015 Certifications Accepting New Members Now

Sarah Kloser, Services Manager

Prove your knowledge

If getting to the next level in your career is part of your plans, here’s something that has helped others become the go-to reporting expert in their companies and beyond.

The Jet Reports Certification program is a skills-based program designed by our in-house experts to help you learn and validate your expertise across the spectrum of reporting and Business Intelligence.

A series of tests help you track your knowledge in every aspect of the Jet Reports portfolio of solutions with the backing of a company that is well-respected in the Microsoft Dynamics community.

To make this as easy as possible for you certification is free. (more…)

Taking Business Analytics beyond the Golf Course: What it Really Means to “Go Mobile”

Tara Grant, Director of Worldwide Sales

It shouldn’t come as any shock that the era of running businesses or departments by being chained to a desk is quickly fading. But what you might not see is how the concept of “remote” is expanding beyond the capability of working from a different location than the headquarter office. What you will see is the evolution of “Going Mobile”. (more…)

The ‘Amazon Effect’: Why Companies who Need Marketing also Need BI

Tara Grant, Director of Worldwide Sales

According to Gartner, by the year 2017 CMOs will outspend CIOs in IT investments. That is a staggering prediction about the evolution of business: you can’t survive today without knowing your customers. Intimately. (more…)

Jet Enterprise 2014 Service Release 1 (SR1)

Brian Petersen, Director of Business Intelligence Solutions

As both the largest and fastest growing Business Intelligence (BI) and Reporting provider in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, Jet Reports is proud to announce the global release of Jet Enterprise 2014 Service Release 1 (SR1). A number of valuable new features and substantial performance improvements have been added to our flagship BI platform. (more…)

Meet us in St. Louis!

Diane L. Saeger, Vice President of Marketing

Join Jet Reports and thousands of Microsoft Dynamics® users at Summit 2014, October 14-17, in St. Louis, MO. Jet Reports is excited to partner with Summit to offer learning opportunities on a variety of topics from Excel to Business Intelligence. Check out our full session schedule to find out where to catch us. After sessions, come meet the Jet team at our booth #1017 and get a live demo of Jet Mobile, an interactive enterprise Business Intelligence application for mobile devices, and Jet Express for Word, a free document reporting solution for Microsoft Dynamics® NAV. (more…)

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