Why MicroStrategy is a great BI tool for governed self-service

In the previous blog post I had explained what is governed self service and how to set it up in your company.  To be successful governed self service needs a software which supports different set of features and capabilities for different level of users.

In a governed self-service model, IT’s role is to build the data pipelines and ETL from the various source systems to the data warehouse and build out the sematic model using the help of the super user.

The super user will be primarily building the master datasets for consumption by the reports and dashboards. The master dataset hides the complexity of the various joins and where the data came from. It will have all the attributes and metrics for a specific business need. The master dataset is validated for data accuracy by the super users and is deemed as a trusted dataset for the power users. The master dataset can be a cached for high performance in-memory or a cube format.

The power users use the master dataset to analyze, slice and dice the data the way they want. They can build story boards, pivot the data or mash it up with other local data sources to provide the analysis that their end users need. The end user is the consumer of the data and makes decisions based on the analysis provided to them.

What is also critical is that the BI software in the environment need to support the governed self-service model. While a governed self-service can be achieved to some extent in different tools, MicroStrategy seems to be the best tool built from the ground up to support this model.

The various components in MicroStrategy that make up the governed self- service are as follows –

IT ownership

Data warehouse connection – Connecting MicroStrategy Developer to the database and importing the relevant tables

Logical Tables – This is where the developer defines the table or view definitions

Attributes, Facts and other schema objects – The next step in the development process where the attributes, facts, joins and other data model components are built by the IT developer.

Super User Ownership

Once the attributes and metrics are built then the Super User can build the prompts, filters, hierarchies and finally the grid report. The super user can include all the necessary attributes, metrics and filters in this master grid report. This report can be used to support one or multiple dossiers. The idea is that the super user uses her knowledge of the data and business need and creates a master report which has all the information needed for analysis and the users of this report are confident that the data is accurate and in a useful format.

The grid report in MicroStrategy is the basic component on which the Master Dossiers can be built.

In the MicroStrategy web the super user can right click the grid report and create a master dossier. Once the master dossier is created the grid report can be hidden from the power and end users.

The master dossier can then be copied by the power users for further analysis.

Power User/End User Ownership

The Power Users can copy the master dossier into their folders and further create formula columns, add/remove columns, pivot the data, create visualization as needed for their end users. They can be confident that the master report has the data they need, and it is accurate.

The biggest advantage of this model of operation is that if a need field, prompt or any other changes are made to the master grid report by the super user it automatically gets propagated to all the dossiers that are built on top of it. This way the “master dataset” on which all the analysis that are built is owned by the super user who has the best knowledge of the data and the closest relationship to the IT developers.

If the BI structure (both technically and organizationally) is setup in the above fashion, then the power of governed self-service can be achieved in your company using MicroStrategy. This is a great way to utilize the skills and expertise of the various teams as well as getting accurate data to the analysts and end users.