Establishing your Company's Responsibility Matrix for BI Success

May 31, 2015

Only by clearly identifying the responsibility matrix within your company can the right decision-making process be set in place for successful BI projects.
Most people think that once you have the right data warehouse and BI environment set up, you have all the insight you need to make the right decisions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. And that’s the reason so many BI projects fail—70 to 80 percent, according to Gartner.

Decision support isn’t only about the data you see. It’s also a process. And you can’t make an intelligence business decision without the right process set in place.

The why behind the what

As we’ve written about extensively at TARGIT, there is a hidden danger in business intelligence: information overload. With so many data sources, metrics, and goals to monitor in a single department, many report and analytics designers pull everything into a single overly heavy report. In most cases, that amount of detail isn’t necessary.

Conversely, there’s the pitfall of too little information. If you don’t have enough data to get to the why behind the what of the numbers, business intelligence is falling short. The result of either of these scenarios is low user adoption.

At TARGIT, we’ve created an entire curriculum comprised of consulting and free resources to show you how to make more actionable analyses that result in higher user adoption—the first step in the journey becoming a data-driven organization. In order to do so, you must have a solid understanding of what we at TARGIT call the Action Loop.

The Action Loop

A company’s Action Loops support operational excellence and lead to real-time data discovery and action. Not only is it part of our logo, it’s part of our DNA.

We want to make sure people don’t only buy BI for the sake of having the tool, but so they gain the courage to act. And courage to act comes from the ability to understand the information needs to be acted upon.

The Action Loop is comprised of four phases: Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action. Otherwise known as the OODA Loop for military and business strategy, the Action Loop is a representation of the process that people and organizations use to learn, grow, and thrive in rapidly changing, often uncertain environments.

Every decision maker in the organization should have a comprehensive understanding of what information is needed for each stage of the Action Loop that relates to his or her area of responsibility, ensuring that the business intelligence project is best designed to answer the most important business questions.

It’s important to consider who will be catered to with the reports and analyses that are created for each Action Loop. Business intelligence is not one size fits all. In most circumstances, it should be split up into multiple analyses for different users so they can absorb information in the way they work best. We call these users the BI User Personas. You can read about them in the eBook “How to Ensure the Highest User Adoption Rates for your BI Project.”

In order to gain the momentum needed to make real change and the right decisions, you must ensure people have the right information. Failure to account for the BI users and the processes they need can almost guarantee a failure of a BI project.

But successful business intelligence processes hinge not only on understanding who these users are and how they best absorb data, but what role they play in the office and why they need that data to begin with. We call this the Responsibility Matrix.

The Responsibility Matrix

The OODA Loop tells you what you’re going to look at. The remaining undertaking of creating a BI project is addressing who is looking at this data. When looking at the Action Loop, you must consider the four roles of the Responsibility Matrix. They are:
  • Performer
  • Accountable
  • Controller
  • Informed

Let’s break these roles down in an example fictional company, which we’ll call Sweet Cheeks Candy Company.

The Performer is the BI user who will be tasked with the action that needs to be taken. In this example, the Performer is the sales guy who will go into the meeting with the customer who’s been flagged for not buying as much as the data says they should.

In Sweet Cheeks Candy Company, the Sales Manager is typically the one Accountable for the results in the Sales Department. He needs to know the overall performance of his staff. The action taken by the sales guy heading into the meeting with the customer directly affects the Accountable.

Moving up the line, the Controller needs to make sure the company is on track overall. Is the company compliant? Are they on track as a whole? Which departments are performing well and which are not? The Controller typically reports directly to the CEO or other members of the executive team.

Then there’s the Informed. These are the people within the company—think the C-suite and board members—who want to understand what’s going on. 

Here’s an example of what Sweet Cheeks Candy Company’s Responsibility Matrix would look like: 

responsibility matrix

All of these four roles are typically well defined in every department, in particular the Performer, Accountable, and Controller. Some employees can have multiple roles. In smaller, flexible organizations there may be one person who is accountable for a certain region, he’s also doing the selling, and he also needs to monitor his own performance. In larger organizations, these are more likely split into different people with different roles.

Mapping out the Responsibility Matrix in your organization will give you a good overview of what kind of information across the different Action Loops a given role will have and what level of information they need.

Together with the Action Loop, this information is collected to understand how you can build better analyses that support the effort the organization is trying to achieve every day. 

To see a demo of how to best design Action Loops for the roles in your organization, download the free on-demand webinar “The Action Loop: the guide for faster, better business decisions and outcomes.”

Kim Hanmark

Director, Professional Services EMEA
"Put people before technology." I have worked within the technology space since the early 90's. I started up as a software developer, building solutions for enterprise class companies. After the IT bubble burst in 2001, I transitioned into business management -- still with a technology perspective. I have spent the last five years helping large corporations successful..
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