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Chapter 1 (Agile BI Book)

This blog post presents a preliminary version of this chapter of the collaborative Agile BI book. You can access the various sections currently available and you may register to join this collaborative effort to start contributing. I also invite you to comment this content at the bottom of the blog post.


INTRODUCTION

The hand on the clock seemed to be moving slower. It was approaching 5:15 pm and Alessia was wondering how much longer this meeting would be. The strategic committee met on a monthly basis and although the board room was situated on the 12th floor overlooking the beautiful downtown area, she knew better than to expect to have dinner with her family tonight.

Dan called up the next management team member to speak. “Vincent, you have 30 minutes to give us an update”.

Vincent was the longest standing member on the management team and although he had the title of Vice-President of Supply Chain Management, very few people would have been able to tell what he actually filled his days with. Vincent always seemed very busy and he had become a master at deflecting situations so they would become someone else’s problem. He was about to use his famous strategy once again.

“Team”, Vincent said. “The economy is hitting our suppliers very hard and without reliable suppliers our entire business is at risk”.

Although everyone knew the coming months would be challenging for the organization, they didn’t need Vincent to point out the situation. Especially not in a condescending fashion.

“I know we all have many projects underway and the quality of the recent hires wasn’t great…” he continued before getting interrupted by Sandra, the V-P of Human Resources.

“Excuse me Vincent, can you please clarify your comment? I believe my department has been offering a great service and this is the first time I hear you complain about our recruiting” said Sandra.

“I’m sorry Sandra, I certainly didn’t mean to imply your team wasn’t doing a good job! Quite the contrary, your team is always available when my people need help. I was referring to IT”.

While Sandra politely smiled, relieved that her department was maintaining a positive track record, Alessia almost spat the sip of water she was drinking.

“What? What do you mean by that Vincent?”, Alessia asked.

“Well, you know. I’ve been waiting for months now to get a report that would show me which suppliers ship on time and which ones don’t. That is critical information for my department and for the entire company but your department doesn’t seem to consider this a priority at all.”, Vincent explained.

Alessia was aware that Vincent had requested the supplier reports months ago but since her headcount had been reduced by 15% in the last 6 months and that Vincent hadn’t followed up after his initial request, she assumed the reports weren’t that important. Come to think of it, Alessia remembered that Vincent had lost a key supplier a few weeks back so she assumed Vincent was trying to deflect the pressure by bringing up an issue with the development team. The V-P of Information Technology didn’t want to leave the meeting with a strike against her for something so trivial, so she decided to take the conversation to a different front.

“Indeed Vincent, those reports are critical to help you properly manage your department which will have an impact on our entire company. We wouldn’t want you to lose another key supplier”, Alessia added to make sure Vincent’s issue was still visible to the whole group before moving on to another issue.

“Guys, we all understand the economy is difficult and we made big sacrifies. My department had to let go 5 people since the beginning of the year so we are short staffed to tackle all the projects that are coming our way…”, Alessia said before getting interrupted by the V-P of Finance who’s attention was taken away from his blackberry for a minute.

“Alessia, we know your department had the biggest cut this year but the average salary of your developers is much higher than those of people in other departments…”, said Mark.

“Mark, let me stop you there. Please let me finish the point I’m trying to make before jumping in but let me assure you that it is not about the decision to reduce my headcount. As difficult as it was, I still support the decision but my resources aren’t being used efficiently.”, Alessia continued.

Mark seemed pleased with his comment and the answer he received and discreetly went back to his blackberry.

Alessia staired in Dan’s direction asking her General Manager for permission to continue. Dan nodded.

“Guys, as I was saying my resources aren’t being used very efficiently. I don’t mind re-assigning resources to the most critical project but we would first need to agree on what it is. As we speak, my team is being pulled in all directions.”, Alessia continued.

“We are trying to move the e-commerce project forward but Marketing keeps changing the requirements….”, said Alessia before getting interrupted by Cynthia.

“We need to respond to our clients’ needs. This is the mission of Marketing. The market is changing so we need to adapt”, added Cynthia.

“Does the market change weekly?”, asked Alessia

Sensing a trap, Cynthia opened up another track to the discussion.

“The last 2 meetings scheduled, your business analyst didn’t even show up. How am I supposed to get my application ready to launch when your team doesn’t even do their part?”, added Cynthia.

“First I hear of this. I’ll look into. It might be because he was working with Greg’s team producing Excel reports”, said Alessia.

“What do you mean?”, asked the General Manager.

“Dan, the Sales’ team has jeopardized my 2 business analysts and 6 developpers to help them recreate their old Excel reports in the data warehouse.”, Alessia answered.

“Greg, can you explain”, asked Dan.

“Of course. As we all know we are working hard to increase the sales but my account managers don’t have the information they need since we moved to the new data cubes”, said Greg.

“Data marts”, replied Alessia. “They are called data marts”.

“Right, data marts”, said Greg. “Since we moved to the data mart, my team is missing the information they need to do their job so I asked them to work with IT to get their old Excel created in the data mart”, added Greg.

Dan looked at his watch and said “We still have 6 items to cover on the agenda and it’s getting close to 6 pm. I’m asking Alessia to sort out this mess and report back to the team at the next management committee meeting next month”.

Dan looked at the agenda and said, “Next item is for you Richard. How are we doing with the upcoming golf tournament?”.

Alessia phased out for a few minutes. She was getting really tired of how things were going but she couldn’t think of a solution at this point in time. She decided to pay attention to the remainder of the meeting for now and would try to resolve the issue tomorrow.

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