Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reactive vs. Proactive vs. Progressive BI Administration

Administration can be not only time- and labor-intensive, but also thankless, because it can make you look reactive, even when you know you're doing your absolute best with the resources available to you. Add to this the fact that many administrative tasks are also time-sensitive, meaning they not only take your time, but they take it right now.

Reactive administration is the default approach, in the absence of any real administrative strategy.

You don't fix what isn't broken; you only fix it after it breaks, and because it's causing inconvenience for someone willing to file a complaint.

The Proactive Is the Enemy of the Progressive

You may congratulate yourself if you regularly anticipate administrative bottlenecks and make resources available to resolve issues before they affect your service level agreements. You're being proactive, and that's good as far as it goes, but you're not necessarily being progressive.
What's the difference between these two attributes?
  • Proactive BI administration is taking care of BI business before it affects your organization's business negatively.
  • Progressive BI administration is making the BI services you provide steadily better over time.

It's essentially the difference between being efficient and being effective. As Peter Drucker said, being efficient is doing things right, while being effective is doing the right things. For BI administrators and platform managers, these are complementary attributes.

However, just as the good can be the enemy of the great, the proactive can be the enemy of the progressive. Progressive BI administration incorporates the concept of continuous improvement. If you're looking for continuous improvement, you shouldn't settle for good enough.

To be progressive about this issue is to ask yourself "If not now, when?"

Getting to Progressive BI Administration

Automation, bulk operations, and deep system knowledge are the keys to progressive BI administration:
  • Is an administrative task labor-intensive?Use bulk operations to remove the repetitive aspects of the task.
  • Is an administrative task time-intensive and time-sensitive?Use automation to complete  the task in a fraction of the time it would normally take to perform it manually.
  • Are the volume of report objects, the proliferation of instances, and the complexity of schedules making it difficult to catch your breath?Catalog your content, formulate a deep understanding of your system and its users, and do what it takes to reduce your system's technical debt.
  • Is testing a drag on your ability to manage change?Automate testing to accelerate change management work flows.

But wait. There's help:
  • The APOS Insight solution helps you formulate a deep understanding about your system, providing actionable information to let you safeguard and improve it.
  • The APOS Administrator solution provides bulk report object, schedule and instance management capabilities.
  • The APOS Storage Center solution helps you implement a progressive archive, backup and selective restore strategy for your BI system content.
  • The APOS Validation Manager solution automates the testing of reports in a project-based environment.

Technical Debt & Progressive BI Administration

Without a progressive approach to your BI platform, your management of administration tasks may just be increasing the technical debt in that platform, creating and perpetuating a vicious cycle.

It may seem efficient to perform administration as a series of one-off tasks that don't relate to each other. As you cross each task off your list, you feel like you're accomplishing something. But is this approach effective? Dealing with administrative tasks tactically rather than strategically is one of the principal causes of technical debt proliferation in BI systems.

Technical debt is a drag on growth and innovation, which makes it a threat to your ongoing success, and thus to your very existence as an organization. Technical debt has been likened to a black hole, and as we all know, the very first thing you have to do to escape any kind of hole is to stop digging.

It seldom seems that simple, though. You can find excuses for not implementing a progressive BI administration strategy, but are there any valid reasons to not make your administrative capabilities more agile?.

Again: "If not now, when?"

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