It is important that organizations have the right approach in place in order to create an impactful visual service blueprint.

The first step in a proper approach is BI strategy and consulting, which includes key activities that ensure the right requirements are in place before executing the actual work such as:

  • Establishing a BI framework
    • Stakeholder interviews
    • Gap analysis in current vs. expected deliverables
    • Beta runs of the BI framework
  • Implementation of BI framework
    • Operationalizing BI outputs and deliverables
    • Implementing and managing regular change manage framework
  • Establishing a governance process
    • Establishing user level accesses across all key stakeholder departments
    • Implementing a process for report and data continuity
    • Conducting stakeholder workshops to educate teams on governance process

The second aspect of creating an impactful BI and visualization practice is what all stakeholders look forward to – generating highly impactful insights. This would include:

  • Story formation
    • Drawing board approach for visuals during stakeholder reviews
    • Converting stakeholder feedback into visual storyboards
  • Agile insights
    • Implementing and managing regular change manage framework
    • Designing dashboards which enable easy drill-down of insights- not just capturing delta in business KPIs
    • Driving business critical KPIs and manage a KPI retire process
  • Hypothesis testing
    • Scenario planning
    • Quick deep dives and BI hackathons

The third most important aspect of creating an impactful visualization practice is creating the right knowledge management set up and processes, which would include:

  • Implementation of BI Knowledge Management practices
    • Setting up and reviewing current practices and frameworks
    • Quarterly revalidation and review of the program along with stakeholders
  • Project management – DO NOT IGNORE
    • Understanding dynamic business requirements from customers
    • Managing constantly changing business priorities
  • Knowledge repository
    • Deploying and managing BI knowledge portals
    • Change management across different knowledge assets
  • Benchmarking exercises
    • Practice benchmarking
    • Setup and ongoing measurement of internal stakeholder certification program

The entire visualization and data practice then rests on the core foundation of setting the right infrastructure. This is mainly driven by the following pillars:

  • Consultative approach to infra management
    • Identifying and deploying the most optimal server configurations
    • Support while setting up BI technology stack for deploying secure and structured infrastructure
    • Data & technology process migration from private to cloud network
  • Data management best practice
    • Data integration across platforms – (in-house, owned and 3rd party)
    • Data normalization and structuring as per visual design needs, to solve critical business needs
  • Performance testing

It is always good to remember a few general points which will help you migrate from a beginner BI practice to expert level BI practice, including:

  1. Tap into the right audience-
  • When developing a visualization or a dashboard, identify the highest priority persona. Who will be looking at this data? Resist the temptation to create a dashboard that meets the needs of every single stakeholder who might one day look at it.
  • Next, create a wireframe that answers the questions that will drive meaningful action in your organization. What KPIs are vital to answering strategic questions for your business? For example, measuring market share, while nice, likely won’t change significantly on a day-to-day basis. Define a threshold for concern when market shares fall outside of statistically significant norms and create a visualization that quickly and easily identifies where there is a concerning trend. Taking this approach ensures your visualization contains actionable and meaningful content.
  • Next, for every visualization, ask “What actions do we want people to take with this insight?” It is generally to align people with your mission and to empower them to act, backed by evidence.
  1. Provide context- Always present performance measured against clear goals.
  2. Keep it simple- Idea is to keep the dashboard visuals as simple as possible and not overcomplicate the design or the actual dashboard visual.
  3. Choose the right visual for purpose: Take a call between line chart vs. bar charts vs other visual types. Keep the story in mind and then go for the final output.
  4. Design ways to keep users engaged: Create a best practice document and make the final output designs to keep the users engaged. A more metric-driven approach along with regularly scheduled email reports will ensure the users are well engaged and always see a sense of accomplishment.

Advanced visualization tools are often complex to deploy and use, requiring support from outside consultants or the services of internal data scientists. In order to succeed, companies must decide how to divide usage of the tools between IT staff and business users. Placing most of the responsibility in the hands of IT might be the best approach in some organizations, while others might be better suited to an agile approach that empowers business users to create visualizations and develop reports on their own. Either way, the flashy elements of data visualization tools may draw attention away from the primary purpose behind them – to support the process of business decision-making.

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