As with any project, getting the right team in place to move your BI initiative forward and to sustain it is critical. Indeed, a strong lesson which emerged from the eleven Jisc projects is the importance of keeping the same team together throughout – not always an easy task in the wake of organisational restructuring and demands from competing initiatives.
Although every BI project will be different, and there will always be variety in the specific job titles, an analysis of the teams involved in the Jisc projects does point to certain key competencies which it seems you need to be prepared to cover in some shape or form.
What follows is a list of the job titles of those involved in the Jisc projects, loosely grouped around four roles. This is by no means an exact science and it is perfectly possible that many of the roles stated could just as easily be included under a different heading (or under more than one heading).
Broadly speaking the roles seemed to break down into the following four areas:
- Information related
- Management and governance.
As you would expect from an area so reliant on the integration and utilisation of IT systems, each project had a very definite specialist technical representation. These tended to revolve around either straightforward programming roles, or more from the infra-structural/systems development side of things.
Interestingly, several of the projects also involved researchers and academics specialising in various ‘niche’ fields of direct relevance to the BI agenda, for example: visualisation natural language query and human computer interaction.
A selective list of job titles broadly falling within the technical category included:
- Head of applications support and development
- Senior analyst/programmer
- Applications developer
- Systems developer
- Head of business information systems and services
- IT projects manager
- Head of information systems
- Lecturer in business systems
- Professor of software technology.
This category was largely made up of those posts related to the analysis and use of data, rather than those more overtly responsible for issues of information management. We have also included those projects which included a specific ‘BI specialist’ role here, though this is an equally strong claim for these to be viewed as technical posts given that a large part of their role appears to revolve around the creation of data warehouses and production of management dashboards.
A selective list of job titles broadly falling within the information related category included:
- Head of planning and information
- Head of student statistics
- Information improvement manager
- Analytical services manager
- MI coordinator
- BI specialists.
This was certainly the most eclectic category and given the range of business areas the projects covered this is perhaps not surprising. What it does point to is the importance of ensuring that there is adequate representation on the project (and at an appropriately senior level) from those functions which will be affected by the project: either as providers or consumers of the information – or both.
A selective list of job titles broadly falling within the business focused category included:
- Corporate strategy manager
- Director of students
- Associate dean for teaching and learning
- Head of central academic and business support services
- Business analyst
- PGR and REF manager
- Director of strategic planning and change unit.
Management and governance
The need for senior management buy-in and support for a BI initiative has been alluded to repeatedly throughout this resource and is reiterated here. To a large degree, the presence of senior management roles in this category reflects the importance placed upon such representation as part of the initial project bidding process, but this in turn was a reflection of the vital importance of such involvement.
The other main representation here relates to the need for there to be a recognised operational lead for such initiatives: a project manager with day to day responsibility for driving the project forward and coordinating activity.
A selective list of job titles broadly falling within the management and governance focused category included:
- Pro vice-chancellor
- Vice principal
- Director of research and enterprise
- Project manager
- Operations manager.