Post: 10 Organizations That Benefit From BI Testing

There is not one industry where testing of BI reports is more important than in others. ALL industries can benefit from BI testing, however there are certain types of organizations that recognize the value of testing more so than others.

In our experience, organizations that have a mature Business Analytics focus and understand the benefits of Continuous Integration understand the value of testing and share the following qualities:

  1. Medium to large companies that have an established BICC or Business Analytics Center of Excellence and need to enforce the standards they have developed across a large base of users.
  2. Smaller companies with limited resources and a small IT/BI/Cognos Admin team. For these companies, proactive testing and notification can be a second set of eyes to give them a leg up on the competition.
  3. Companies with a culture of testing. In other words, some organizations have well-developed processes for project management which require testing as an integral part of every project as defined by Project Management Office standards. These companies budget time and dollars for testing.
  4. The manufacturing industry has a long history of testing and understands its value. Going back 30 or 40 years now, they have developed tests for everything from raw materials to end products.
  5. Self-sufficient, Do-it-yourself organizations. These companies, though not necessarily software development companies, have a history of creating their own software, integrating Cognos into custom portals, etc. They know and understand the Software Development Life Cycle and the importance of testing.
  6. Any company working with Big Data. Typically, these companies are more mature on the Business Analytics maturity spectrum. Testing of reports and managing the BI ecosystem can no longer be managed manually.
  7. Any large-scale Cognos implementation with two or more servers in multiple environments: Development, Testing, Performance, Production, Production Disaster Recovery. Notice that there are two environments dedicated to testing and performance. An ecosystem like this can easily have 10 to 30 servers which must be kept in sync.
  8. Any organization considering a Cognos upgrade needs to build regression testing into its upgrade plan. It’s imperative to determine if BI content works properly before migrating to a new version of Cognos. With testing in place you can determine if content works, if there is any degradation in performance and if the outputs are valid.
  9. Any organization with a distributed development team of multiple developers in various locations around the globe. Ensuring that developers follow corporate standards and best practices can be a challenge. When report developers in 3 or 4 time zones are collaborating on a project, coordination becomes that much more of a challenge. Testing becomes critical.
  10. Any well-run business should make sure the numbers it uses to make decisions are accurate. Intelligent decisions are based on accurate, reliable and timely analysis of data. Testing verifies the accuracy of data. Automated testing ensures this verification is timely. Any industry which is heavily regulated,has government oversight, or is at risk of audit should value the validation aspect of testing.

If you would like to learn more about the value of testing your BI environment and Continuous Integration, watch the webinar on testing and improving Cognos performance.


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As the BI space evolves, organizations must take into account the bottom line of amassing analytics assets.
The more assets you have, the greater the cost to your business. There are the hard costs of keeping redundant assets, i.e., cloud or server capacity. Accumulating multiple versions of the same visualization not only takes up space, but BI vendors are moving to capacity pricing. Companies now pay more if you have more dashboards, apps, and reports. Earlier, we spoke about dependencies. Keeping redundant assets increases the number of dependencies and therefore the complexity. This comes with a price tag.
The implications of asset failures differ, and the business’s repercussions can be minimal or drastic.
Different industries have distinct regulatory requirements to meet. The impact may be minimal if a report for an end-of-year close has a mislabeled column that the sales or marketing department uses, On the other hand, if a healthcare or financial report does not meet the needs of a HIPPA or SOX compliance report, the company and its C-level suite may face severe penalties and reputational damage. Another example is a report that is shared externally. During an update of the report specs, the low-level security was incorrectly applied, which caused people to have access to personal information.
The complexity of assets influences their likelihood of encountering issues.
The last thing a business wants is for a report or app to fail at a crucial moment. If you know the report is complex and has a lot of dependencies, then the probability of failure caused by IT changes is high. That means a change request should be taken into account. Dependency graphs become important. If it is a straightforward sales report that tells notes by salesperson by account, any changes made do not have the same impact on the report, even if it fails. BI operations should treat these reports differently during change.
Not all reports and dashboards fail the same; some reports may lag, definitions might change, or data accuracy and relevance could wane. Understanding these variations aids in better risk anticipation.

Marketing uses several reports for its campaigns – standard analytic assets often delivered through marketing tools. Finance has very complex reports converted from Excel to BI tools while incorporating different consolidation rules. The marketing reports have a different failure mode than the financial reports. They, therefore, need to be managed differently.

It’s time for the company’s monthly business review. The marketing department proceeds to report on leads acquired per salesperson. Unfortunately, half the team has left the organization, and the data fails to load accurately. While this is an inconvenience for the marketing group, it isn’t detrimental to the business. However, a failure in financial reporting for a human resource consulting firm with 1000s contractors that contains critical and complex calculations about sickness, fees, hours, etc, has major implications and needs to be managed differently.

Acknowledging that assets transition through distinct phases allows for effective management decisions at each stage. As new visualizations are released, the information leads to broad use and adoption.
Think back to the start of the pandemic. COVID dashboards were quickly put together and released to the business, showing pertinent information: how the virus spreads, demographics affected the business and risks, etc. At the time, it was relevant and served its purpose. As we moved past the pandemic, COVID-specific information became obsolete, and reporting is integrated into regular HR reporting.
Reports and dashboards are crafted to deliver valuable insights for stakeholders. Over time, though, the worth of assets changes.
When a company opens its first store in a certain area, there are many elements it needs to understand – other stores in the area, traffic patterns, pricing of products, what products to sell, etc. Once the store is operational for some time, specifics are not as important, and it can adopt the standard reporting. The tailor-made analytic assets become irrelevant and no longer add value to the store manager.