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    • CommentAuthorben
    • CommentTimeJun 18th 2007 edited
    The following question was sent in by a reader and I hope will start a good conversation. What are the things a good project manager needs to know?

    <The BI Best practices is a great resource.

    <Is it possible to be directed or to ask for information related to becoming a better BI project leader / <project manager. I would like to learn more about the leadership role with BI projects and are there best <practices or guidelines for how to setup and run a BI project.

    IS Consultant/Business Analyst
    • CommentAuthorMichelleJ
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2007
    I'll let the actual BI project managers chime in on what a good project manager needs to know. In regards to resources for BI project leaders I wanted to mention that TDWI offers some courses on BI project and program management, and there is a track of BI leadership and management courses at the upcoming conference in San Diego. It may be a good place to start:
    • CommentAuthorpgiblett
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2007
    There is no simple answer to this question, largely the skills required are the same as those required to be a good project manager, with the additional understanding of the BI Technologies (ETL, Database, Olap reporting tools etc.)

    The response is gathered from several chapters on my forthcoming book discussing successful implementation of data warehouse projects.

    It is essential that the Data Warehousing project be broken down into bite-sized pieces that are understood by all involved in the project. The skills required should be familiar to any skilled Project Manager. As with any project the team requires:
    ? Clearly defined goals.
    ? To work together
    ? Develop a team spirit.
    ? Dedication to achieve the goals.
    ? Commit to achievable steps and honour commitments.

    The team must build a common desire to set objectives and perform, remember no team is effective overnight. Each team member will bring special skills or knowledge that are important to the final goal.

    All too often projects lose their way. Therefore the team must learn and adopt certain habits to focus on what is essential:
    ? Proactiveness
    ? Focus on goals
    ? Prioritise all work
    ? Target a winning solution for the business
    ? Understand the business
    ? Create a new alternatives
    ? Team Health

    Core to the success of the project is to build expert workstreams. The workstream is a speciality ‘group’, or sub-team. Their aim is the resolution of very specific issues within the context of the whole project stage.

    The workstreams required within each project stage are:
    ? Project Planning & Business Control
    ? Business Requirements
    ? Architecture
    ? Data Quality
    ? Data Acquisition
    ? Application

    Additionally some organisations add two further work streams:
    ? Corporate Data Dictionary
    ? Project Quality Control

    The project team will consist of developers and business community users working together within specialist workstreams. A workstream should consist of a minimum of two persons (one from the business and one from IT). In many projects it is necessary to share resources. If a shared business specialist is employed then they must dedicate time to all workstreams, and the project manager must be aware of all roadblocks in the use of their time.

    Project Manager
    A full time role within the project.

    A successful Data Warehousing project will spawn future projects (each focused on new business subjects). The role is to manage the delivery of the full data warehouse, through its various stages, including any parallel strands. They are responsible for managing delivery of both the user front-end reporting application, the data pipeline and the data warehouse storage. The role requires the ability to balance effort over the lifetime of the project between each delivery stage.

    The Project Manager will require knowledge of the technologies involved, the likely costs and the business impact of the new implementation. When tasks fall behind schedule they must be able to understand the issues involved (both business and technical) and ensure that the correct project approach is being used. This demands a person with the vision to drive the project through, with the ability to make tough decisions about the appropriate development path. They must plan effectively and allocate relevant resources to workstreams.

    The role will require the ability to understand the workings of all project workstreams and ensure that the team is of all issues that are likely to impact its delivery schedule. They will ensure that the team liaises effectively.


    The Project Manager must work with the Project Sponsor and the wider business community managing their expectations. Responsible for managing agreed project expenditure, including the staffing of project teams, including the hiring of third party consultants. They must be in control of the project scope and must control scope creep.
    The project manager will be responsible for ensuring that all risks are identified and managed.

    The Person & Background

    The project manager will possess sound organisational skills and have experience running major corporate projects. An IT background is not required although they should possess a capacity to understand the outline architecture of the systems implemented and oversee all the details of the project. They require the drive to ensure completion of each project workstream. Should be a great negotiator and able to resolve conflicts and prioritise tasks for the whole team. They should have the ability to keep sight of all milestones and not lose sight of project goals and commitments.
    They should be a good listener and have the ability to harmonise the team.
    • CommentAuthorAnalytix
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2007
    It's critical to differentiate between being in a leadership role and a PM role. Could be the same person, but a BI PM without someone in the leadership role is not going to provide the long-term impact and success to an organization.

    BI Leadership must understand and be privy to the strategies, objectives of the Business (not IT) and the pains/problems. Have the ability to work with Business Decsion Makers (BDM) to align BI as part of the solution to the business issues, and if the understanding isn't there, be able to "sell" the value of BI to the BDM as a integral part of the planned solution as well as manage and shape the expectations of the business. Without someone in the leadership role BI will live in IT and never provide the maximum value and impact, and the Project Manager attempting to deliver a successful BI "Project" is going to have a very challenging time.