Developing a Business Intelligence Roadmap


In the early stages of any large scale Insights / BI / Management Information (choose whichever term suits) it’s important to provide a roadmap.

Stakeholders should understand the current situation, where you want to be and the steps to get there.

Communicating this BI vision is important to get stakeholders engaged.

This diagram is useful to communicate the steps of the business insights project.

It’s the BI Ladder to Success. Similar to the Information Ladder, it is especially helpful for showing the evolution of data insights expertise.

The BI Ladder to Success – the Level of Analytics ladder

Although this is a ladder, and therefore implies one is dependent on the preceding rung, this isn’t necessarily the case.

If your company is very strong on Step 1 – Standard Reports, for example, then the other things further up the ladder become far easier.

Strength on the bottom rungs provides a solid data platform for success at the upper levels.

If standard reporting is weak you’ll find the other steps are still possible but are likely to be far more complex and time-consuming.

Business Intelligence Ladder to Success

The Business Intelligence Ladder to Success is useful when evaluating your organisation capabilities.

It’s also useful to communicate where you want to get to. If you are working in a business intelligence role it is definitely worth having annual or bi-annual reviews of your BI roadmap.

Combine with the data projects iceberg, which helps manage stakeholder expectations.

Accompanying the ladder and iceberg are the following suggestions to develop a BI roadmap:

  • Vision/Goal – State the Business Goal and IT Goal side by side. Show how your BI goals are aligned to the Business priorities
  • Current State – Using a pictorial representation, display the current state architecture or process through which the Business is currently accessing data for reporting and analysis. You may also show the different business groups/divisions, their current data needs and their current business process. This should also show the type/nature of data the different divisions use. Display the level of organisational BI maturity in reference to the BI Ladder.
  • Business Problems – List the different problems/issues faced by the business in accessing the data for reporting and analysis. Also list the shortcomings of the current system.
  • Objective/Purpose – State the objectives by relating them to what you plan to do to solve the Business problems. Also agree on the level of BI maturity you and the business wish to achieve. Define the success criteria and ways of tracking the progress.
  • Future State – With reference to Levels of Analytics, pictorially represent the future end state architecture along with the future end state business process. State the different questions that the business will be able to answer, the analysis they can perform, the impact that will have on the overall business.
  • Plan – Develop a plan (timeline/schedule/milestones) that shows the multi-phase approach that you wish to take in developing the BI infrastructure.  Each phase is a major milestone and a building block with well-defined objective and purpose. Pictorially display how the intermediate milestones look like. Refer to the industry standards for building the IT infrastructure (Inmon/Kimball approach, MDM if any, etc.)
  • Challenges/Risks – State the challenges and risks that you foresee and the mitigation and contingency plan

Credit for this post goes to the Ashish Mirji at Saama who wrote the post Tips for Developing a BI Roadmap (no longer on their website, formerly at

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