Monthly Archives: December 2014

Why a Prototyping approach to BI may be the answer

So true

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It’s a well-documented fact that many BI projects fail. Research conducted by Gartner actually concluded that 70% of BI projects fail which is an alarming statistic. The reasons for failure are wide and varied, and I could list 13 common reasons for you right here right now but I will save that for another blog.

One of the main and common reasons for failure is a lack or Prototyping and Testing. This in its self is a reason for failure but it also leads to other common reasons such as poorly understood requirements, a lack of data ownership & understanding and a lack of technical understanding.

It’s common for people to say at the beginning of a BI projects, and even several weeks and months into a BI project “that the users don’t really know what they want”. This really should come as no surprise if the users have not…

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I’m a recovering SharePoint addict

Hello, I’m Simon and I have a problem.

10 years ago I fell in with a bad crowd and started doing SharePoint.

I thought I was in control. Just a little session here and there; a quick hit of site creation or an hour or so wrapped around list and library configuration. It was just a little buzz, pleasant but nothing to get excited about. But these things tend to get out of hand; before I knew it I was linking web parts, building information architectures and worse. I liked it, I wanted more.

I’m rather afraid that I began to get others hooked too, introducing them to the rush of building a solution to a business need without writing code or even asking IT. Sometimes we would even hang out together, getting a group.

It started intruding into my day job, sneaking in via that oh so seductive Connect to Outlook button. I admit that I favourited it in Windows Explorer as well as in my browser so I could get to it even more quickly.

About 6 years ago I really hot rock bottom, quitting my proper job to spend all my time with SharePoint. That year was tough; I had dragged my friend, Taran, down with me and we spent every day, 7 days a week, for a year, lost in the murky world of metadata, site template design, business processes modelling, more information architecture. It was all-consuming. We persuaded others to try it, gathering people to us to share the experience. After a while we even rented a den in the centre of Bradford where we could cluster together over the cold and uncaring code. Our dealer, Microsoft, hooked us on a new cut in 2010 and we fell into that completely.

As we learned more and experimented we learned our own way to package the stuff. We became a major dealer. Our package made it more addictive and much, much easier for new punters to get; instead of a gradual addiction over 6 months or more our “clients” started to get there in 12 weeks, then 8. We stopped short of trying to sell it on street corners, but people started coming to us, referred to their network or word-of-mouth. Another cut from our bulk supplier came in 2013 and they also started pushing an airborne, aerosol version that made it even easier to get hooked, with a simple monthly payment plan and no paraphernalia to have to buy before you started.

Then something odd happened. The cravings changed. Instead of being immersed in a browser wrapped SharePoint haze each and every day I found myself weaned off it a little. It was still there in the background, but now it sat below what else I was doing. I would make a note, and SharePoint would be there to looking after my notebook, giving me a little buzz of excitement; I would write a document and SharePoint would look after it and even let my addiction buddies write in it at the same time, another buzz; I would check my calendar and there would be SharePoint. It seems like everything I do to get through the day has SharePoint to ease the pain or add to the pleasure. Of course I still get my proper fix every now and then, but it’s not as often now that SharePoint has become systemic; it’s more like an IV drip than a major hit, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

So things have changed. I’m definitely not over it, but I am more able to live day-to-day. I started reaching out to others struggling with the same addiction, getting them to move beyond the early phase and into the much more gentle territory beyond. We are still hooked, but the addiction and the cravings are under control. You might even say that is a good thing; the obsessive tendencies have mostly gone, the compulsive needs are manageable and the background buzz as business gets done, information gets shared, documents get managed and activities get completed, is a pleasure not a concern.

I’m a recovering SharePoint addict, but I won’t be over it any time soon.

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