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Roles and Responsibilities in Business Intelligence Teams, Part 2

Originally published September 9, 2008

Part 1 of this series on roles and responsibilities in business intelligence (BI) teams focused on program roles. Although every organization is different, roles typically depend on the maturity of the organization, size of the team, skill sets available on the team, and organizational culture. Roles do not necessarily correlate to individuals; a person could do more than one role, or roles could be shared between individuals.

In the broadest context, tasks associated with roles should be focused on the two dimensions of program and project. This article will focus on project roles.

Project Sponsorship

Project sponsorship consists of one business manager per constituency (user group) for whom a project is being performed. This is a part-time role (perhaps 5-10% FTE) to monitor the project team and resolve business issues that are identified by the project manager. Each project team will require one FTE resource, which may consist of two to three contributing individuals (business specialists) from the business area of focus. This resource will participate in the development process, with responsibilities such as identifying the appropriate data uses and data structures required for analysis in the business or functional area.

BI project teams are responsible for execution of the BI program team's strategy within the context of each release. Project teams perform detailed source system analysis, and implement data acquisition and preparation techniques specific to each source system. They also perform detailed data analysis and implement distribution, analytics, decision support systems, etc., to satisfy the business need driver of the project. Project teams may be staffed internally with employees, outsourced, or staffed with a blend of employees and consultants. Regardless of the staffing model, it is critical that projects coordinate and cooperate with the BI program team.

Project Position Descriptions

Different roles are required on the program and project teams. Following is a high level description of the project roles. One person may fill multiple roles. A new or different role may be created based on your current staff's experience.

BI Project Team Roles

Business Manager

The business manager is the sponsor from the user group for whom the project is being performed. This is a part-time role (perhaps 5-10% FTE) to monitor the project team and resolve business issues that are identified by the project manager. It is the business manager’s responsibility to:

  • Act as sponsor from the user group
  • Monitor the project team
  • Resolve business issues identified by project manager

BI Business Specialist

Each project team will require one FTE resource, which may consist of two to three contributing individuals from the business area of focus. This resource will participate in the development process, with responsibilities such as identifying the appropriate data uses and data structures required for analysis in the business or functional area. The BI business specialist is knowledgeable about the information required to support functional areas of the business. He/she participates in the BI project to ensure: 1) The right information is identified at the appropriate level of detail to assist in analysis of the business; and 2) the BI enables modes of accessing and analyzing data that are most conducive to fulfilling the objectives of the business. This person also spearheads data stewardship and data quality programs. He/she may solicit support from others in the business organization.

BI Project Manager

The BI project manager leads a particular project and is responsible for delivery of all project tasks and outcomes. In addition to the normal roles of project management, the project manager works closely with the business constituents of the release, interprets business needs in technical terms, and coordinates with the program team to ensure adherence to all standards and BI processes. The project manager also coordinates with other projects to ensure that issues of gaps and overlap are defined and resolved. Regardless of whether the project is staffed departmentally, cross-functionally, or outsourced, the project manager must ensure adherence and coordination with the program standards and processes. It is the BI project manager’s responsibility to:

  • Understand existing business processes
  • Analyze functionality of existing decision support and executive information systems
  • Understand subject matter
  • Anticipate what users will want
  • Manage expectations of the project
  • Scope an increment
  • Develop project plan for an increment/project
  • Motivate team members
  • Evaluate team members
  • Assess risk
  • Manage expectations
  • Understand information architecture
  • Understand technical architecture
  • Manage project
  • Coordinate with program manager to ensure standards
  • Coordinate with other project managers
  • Understand organizational architecture
  • Implement warehousing specific standards
  • Communicate with all other team members

Business Requirements Analyst

The business requirements analyst serves as a liaison between the end users and BI project team and gathers business requirements. It is the business requirements analyst’s responsibility to:

  • Interview end users to determine requirements for data, reports, analyses, metadata, training, service levels, data quality, and performance
  • Work with architects to translate requirements into technical specifications
  • Document requirements
  • Help identify and assess potential data sources
  • Recommend appropriate scope of requirements and priorities
  • Validate that BI meets requirements and service level agreements
  • Coordinate prototype reviews
  • Gather prototype feedback

Decision Support Analyst

A decision support analyst is an expert in understanding business objectives, questions, and problems, and at obtaining and presenting data to address the issues. The analyst creates data results through a mastery of techniques and tools that range from basic queries through multidimensional analyses and data mining, forming new relations and derivations as necessary, and extracting the maximum amount of valid information content from the data. Extensive insight into the business and the data are essential. The analyst participates in design of data marts to provide the optimal balance of data availability, format, flexibility, and performance. It is the analyst’s responsibility to:

  • Educate users on warehousing capabilities
  • Analyze business information requirements
  • Design training infrastructure
  • Discover business transformation rules
  • Work with production data to validate business requirements
  • Map business needs/requirements to subject area model and to logical enterprise model
  • Create state transformation models
  • Discover dimension hierarchies
  • Validate hierarchies with production data
  • Define business rules for state detection
  • Work with production data to design access structures
  • Classify business users by type
  • Define and get agreement with business users on service-level agreements
  • Develop security rules/standards
  • Create data results through techniques and tools such as basic queries, data mining and multidimensional analysis
  • Develop necessary reports
  • Develop decision support and EIS applications
  • Develop Internet and intranet delivery applications
  • Convert existing reporting applications to the environment
  • Develop new periodic report applications
  • Develop training materials
  • Write users' guide
  • Plan acceptance test
  • Execute acceptance test plan
  • Train BI users
  • Implement support plan
  • Assist users in finding the right information
  • Interface with process teams regarding business process reengineering

BI Designer

The BI designer structures data for optimal access, performance, and integration. This role is responsible for building new data sets and data structures as required to support business needs, and for managing the distribution, replication, and archival of data. The designer must manage the balance of current and future needs in both design and content. This role requires a rare blend of skills normally found in the specialized roles of business analyst, data modeler, and database analyst. The designer also works closely with the BI data architect to ensure compliance with all standards, and to ensure that the project deliverables are consistent with the integrated data model and other information architecture deliverables. It is the BI designer’s responsibility to:

  • Create subject area model
  • Create or review business enterprise model
  • Interpret requirements
  • Create logical staging area model
  • Create structural staging area model
  • Create physical staging area model
  • Create logical distribution model
  • Create structural distribution model
  • Create physical distribution model
  • Create logical relational model
  • Create structural relational model
  • Create physical relational model
  • Create logical dimensional model
  • Create structural dimensional model
  • Create physical dimensional model
  • Validate models with production data
  • Develop processes for capturing and maintaining metadata from all BI components

ETL Specialist

The ETL specialist determines and implements the best technique for extracting data from a particular source system and moving it to the BI system. This person understands and implements a variety of diverse BI acquisition techniques. He/she also works closely with the ETL architect to ensure compliance with all standards, and that the project deliverables are consistent with long-term infrastructure plans. It is the ETL specialist’s responsibility to:

  • Understand the data structure and meaning in both the source and the target BI systems
  • Identify data sources
  • Assess data sources
  • Create source/target mappings
  • Apply business rules as transformations
  • Perform triage
  • Implement navigation methods/application
  • Design and specify source data detection and extraction processes
  • Design and develop transformation code/logic/programs for environment
  • Design and develop data transport and population processes for environment
  • Unit test source data detection and extraction processes for environment
  • Build and unit test data transformation processes for environment
  • Build and unit test source data transport and population processes for environment
  • Work with production data to monitor and report on data conditions and quality
  • Design data cleanup processes
  • Adapt ETL processes to accommodate changes in source systems and new business user requirements
  • Define and capture metadata and rules associated with ETL processes
  • Coordinate with program-level ETL architect to ensure compliance with standards and consistency with long-term infrastructure plans

Database Administrator

The database administrator (DBA) monitors the physical data that the project is adding to the existing BI environment. The DBA works closely with the metadata manager to evaluate how the BI is being altered and ensures efficient performance of the BI environment. He/she monitors performance, reliability, availability, and recoverability; maps logical data models to physical data models; and administers user access protocols. It is the DBA’s responsibility to:

  • Design, implement, and tune database schemas
  • Conduct regular performance testing and tuning
  • Manage storage space and memory
  • Conduct capacity planning
  • Create and optimize physical tables and partitions
  • Implement all models, including aggregation and indexing strategies
  • Manage user accounts and access privileges
  • Implement vendor software patches
  • Analyze usage patterns and downtime
  • Administer tables, triggers
  • Log technical action reports
  • Document configuration and integration with applications and network resources
  • Maintain backup and recovery documentation

BI Miscellaneous Support

Miscellaneous support equates to one FTE (average) per project. This support includes such things as testing, data quality, training, documentation, technical support, operations management, and other skills that may be "borrowed" from other IT groups or contracted externally as needed. This person would be accountable to other team members to support them in their roles.

Program roles are key to the ongoing work required during the process of business intelligence. Clear project roles are essential for each iteration and occur simultaneously to the program dimension. If program and project roles are clear, it is possible to run multiple, parallel projects successfully.

  • Maureen ClarryMaureen Clarry

    Maureen is the Founder and President/CEO of CONNECT: The Knowledge Network (CONNECT), an Xtivia company. CONNECT specializes in data, technical, and organizational solutions for business intelligence. Maureen has been on the faculty of TDWI since 1998, served on the Board for the Colorado Chapter of TDWI, and participates on the Data Warehousing Advisory Board for the University of Denver. CONNECT has been recognized as the South Metro Denver Small Business of the Year, the Top 25 Women Owned and Top 150 Privately Owned Businesses in Colorado. Maureen can be reached at mclarry@connectknowledge.com or 303-730-7171, ext. 102.

    Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Maureen's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

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