Forget ‘Business Intelligence’ and start thinking about solving a business problem

Yesterday, when I wrote about buying business systems for education, at the back of my mind were a number of business intelligence projects I’ve come across. What I’ve seen is that when a business intelligence project runs out of control, and starts to be ‘all things to all people’, it changes into the kind of project which never gets delivered (but is always ‘just around the corner’).

One of our partners, CALUMO, have a very clever business intelligence system for education. And their real strength comes from the business problems it solves for their education customers. Although I’ve heard people occasionally talking about it as a Business Intelligence (BI) solution, I’ve more frequently heard users talking about the business solution it gives – like student load planning, or budgeting, or financial reporting. Last month I read one of their small case study articles, looking at how the University of Canberra use the system to produce their annual report. The business benefit is that they can update their report with real-time data, as changes are made in other systems, rather than having to retrospectively go back and edit the report. So it means that if you post a journal change in your finance system, your annual report is up to date within minutes.

But the CALUMO software isn’t a specific “Annual Report Writing” software package – instead it’s a clever Business Intelligence solution which allows the university to keep their annual report up to date. In the same way that they use the same system for their student load planning. Again, they don’t think of it as their BI system, but as their student load planning system.

That mindset is just one of the ways that I’ve seen a progression in successful IT projects across education – it’s staying focused on the end-user business problem, and solving them, one problem at a time. It’s easy to expand the scope once you’ve solved one problem – there are always plenty waiting to be solved. And the approach seems to be much more successful than trying to solve all of the problems in one single leap – because the end user with the business problem often seems to have to wait a very long time for their solution.image

Learn MoreYou can read more about the case study (with a great tutorial video that shows how report updates can be automated) in Warwick Leitch’s CALUMO blog