Business Intellegence (BI) systems have become a feature de riguer for organizations of all sizes. A BI implementation (whatever it may entail) is never a trivial investment and is prone to failures as any other complex project involving people and technology.

If you were to sit a few people who have been through a BI implementation at the table and ask them about the critical success factor, you would likely fill a few pages in your notepad, but let me share with you just three points that I consider most critical of all.

1. BI can offer excellent ROI but only if there are people within the business who have knowledge, curiosity and willingness necessary to understand the presented information, make inferences and initiate tangible actions. Finding such people in your organization is not at all a slam dunk. If you cannot identify them, don’t bother with BI.

2. There must always be a business sponsor (champion) and the higher this person sits on the corporate ladder, the better. In the absence of sponsor, adoption will meet resistance, the project may easily end up on a low priority list, and before you know it, the precious momentum will be lost. Don’t spend a sou before you identify the champion.

3.  As your business changes, so will the data. BI data is notorious for getting polluted very quickly in the absence of ongoing support. Once it happens, it can no longer be relied on for decision making, rendering the system unusable. You have to subscribe to the notion that an ongoing development effort will always be required. If you are not prepared to assume its cost, do not implement BI.