CIRA transitions to an agile business intelligence methodology

Post: CIRA Chooses MotioCI To Achieve Agile Business Intelligence

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MotioCI Helps CIRA Transition to an Agile BI Methodology

Executive Summary

The Business Intelligence (BI) team at CIRA uses an agile approach to develop and deliver information to their lines of business. Implementing MotioCI has supported their shift to an agile methodology, enabling them to rapidly push time-sensitive data to their business users. MotioCI has increased the efficiency of their BI development process and decreased the amount of time required to troubleshoot issues.

The Challenges — Processes did not Support Agile BI

CIRA has made a shift to streamline processes and manage development with an agile methodology. Before upgrading to Cognos 10.2, they used a single Cognos environment to develop, test, and run production reports. Their Cognos deployment process consisted of moving content between directories. They used the export deployment method in Cognos to make backups for their exports in case they needed to restore content. In an effort to increase the BI team’s velocity, when CIRA introduced Cognos 10.2, they introduced separate environments to conduct development, testing, and production. This new BI architecture necessitated a tool like MotioCI to efficiently perform deployments of BI assets.

Previously for version control, they would create duplicate reports and name them with extensions, v1…v2…and so on. Their “final” version would get moved to a “production” folder. There were, however, several shortcomings in this process:

  1. Multiple versions of content were added to the Cognos content store, potentially affecting performance.
  2. This system did not track the author or changes made to the reports.
  3. It was limited to reports and not packages or models.
  4. Only one BI developer could work on a report version at a time.

This process made it cumbersome to view different versions or collaborate on report edits and changes.

The Solution

The BI development team at CIRA recognized these inefficiencies and spearheaded an agile process to try to improve the issues identified. One of their primary goals was to improve and mature the change management processes. A new methodology along with software in place was required to achieve this goal. The development team implemented pre-dened procedures for change control. A key part of these procedures was empowering people with the ability to deploy between environments. Allowing these BI developers to deploy content from Dev to QA greatly reduced development cycle times. BI developers no longer had to wait for the admin to deploy a report before it could be tested in QA.

MotioCI deployment and version control gave them an audit trail of who deployed, what was deployed, and to where and when it was deployed. CIRA’s deployment life cycle begins with:

  1. BI content is developed in any one environment.
  2.  Then, it gets deployed to the QA environment, where the same or peer developers review it.
  3. Finally, another member of the team deploys it to production.

With MotioCI in place to support agile processes, they can now very quickly modify a report, move it to another environment in a few clicks, review it, have end users UAT (User Acceptance Test) it if necessary, and then roll it out to the production environment. If necessary, they can just as easily undo a deployment.

“After we deploy to production, if something was missed in testing, or we have an issue, we can very easily roll back to a previous version using the MotioCI tool,” said Jon Coote, Information Management Team Lead for CIRA.

Additionally, they must respond to daily service requests very quickly, outside of the normal development cycle. MotioCI has enabled them to be agile in responding to these service requests, by allowing them to quickly expedite any changes through to production. They are able to do these daily, not just whenever a development cycle is completed.

Another advantage they gained with MotioCI version control, was the capability of comparing report versions across environments. Because it is very easy to move BI content across environments, there is always the risk that something gets deployed to production when it should have gone to QA. Being able to compare across environments gave them the assurance that they were deploying the right content.

Summary

According to McKinsey & Company, “success depends on the ability to invest in relevant digital capabilities that are well aligned with strategy.” CIRA found that success by implementing MotioCI, without which they would not have been able to fully leverage the benefits of Cognos nor fully implement their agile approach to BI. MotioCI helped to align their BI investment with their strategy. In doing so, they not only demonstrated savings through improved efficiencies, but are also better able to serve their end users.

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CIRA’s BI team spearheaded the move toward agile BI processes and acquired MotioCI to support this movement. MotioCI sped up the development process by empowering users to quickly make changes, deploy, and test BI content while having the added safety of undoing and correcting as needed. MotioCI plus agile methodology has enabled CIRA to rapidly deliver time-sensitive data to its business users.

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