Business Intelligence: Student’s Assignment Guide

Assignments

Assignment 1

In the first assignment you need to write a project brief of about 1000 words, assuming it is for a

senior manager of an organisation you choose from the list below:

Choose one out of the four organisations below:

1) Goodlife Health Clubs,

2) United Nations,

3) Stan, or

4) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Assume that the chosen organisation has contracted you to develop a dashboard for them.

Provide a project brief to the organisation including the following points where each point is

worth 15% of the mark (6*15=90% in total; remaining 10% see marking criteria below):

1) What are the benefits that a dashboard can bring in general (be as specific as you can to

that organisation’s business needs)

2) Initial thoughts on which data should be included (including internal and external data)

3) Potential challenges in implementing the dashboard (eg: data quality, data availability)

4) Suggested audience for the dashboard (eg: management, all staff, partners and

suppliers)

5) Planned method for implementing, including who needs to be involved

6) Sample dashboard from another organisation

Assignment 2

This is a group assignment to be done in pairs. 

(External students may do the assignment individually)

The second assignment consists of two activities and relates to the organisation you have chosen

for Assignment 1. If your partner had a different organisation in Assignment 1 then this is fine:

1) Practical activity (40% of mark): submission of a working dashboard. Create the design of a

dashboard using one of the tools shown in the practicals (Microsoft PowerBI or Tableau). You

should submit the dashboard by saving the dashboard as a file (*.pbix or *.twbx) and submit that

file with your report (see below). Also include a screenshot in the report. Further you need to

add a description of what it contains and how someone can interact with it. Make sure that you

use at least one of the new types of visualisations (not just charts). Note that you should focus

on externally available data and the data can be different to what you have mentioned in

Assignment 1.

2) Written activity (50% of mark): explain the approach taken in deciding what to put into the

dashboard to demonstrate your understanding of the business’s need and how often the data

will need to be changed (there will always be more data available).

Outline the challenges in developing the dashboard. Provide advice on (a) how the organisation

would benefit from more BIA and (b) specific recommendations on what the organisation could

do to make implementation easier (eg: data quality, governance of classifications, etc) – refer to

BIA lifecycle. For the written component, create a report in a similar format to the first

assignment addressing the points above.

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References should be included in particular for the BI life cycle part.

Scope

You can choose to cover all areas of the organisation or focus on particular field of operation

(eg: marketing, HR, manufacturing, environment sustainability, public reputation).  If you are doing a

degree in that area, you might find that useful.

 

For example: Apple Inc

One of Apple’s strengths is being able to manufacturing and deliver to millions of customers

globally.  A threat to that may be worker injury, equipment breaking down or unreliable

distribution. Which groups/users in Apple would want data to deal with those issues – what data

would they need? In what form?

A company that needs to do a better job of recruiting the right staff – the dashboard then would

be for HR managers.

Marking criteria

The assignments will be marked on how well you cover each of the requirements mentioned above

as well as the following points worth 10% of the mark:

 Referencing

o Correct referencing

o Referencing quality

o Reference recency

 Layout

 Academic/Business Language

 Grammar and Spelling

See below for more details.

Aim of the assignments

Together the two assignments will give you practice at developing a real-world business proposal.

As well as meeting academic requirements you could consider yourself as a consultant to that

organisation – if your proposal is adopted they would be paying you to do the work. Assume that the

reader knows little about BI.

However the assignments are not just a sales pitch – you have to demonstrate that you know what

you are talking about, back up your arguments with evidence, communicate new concepts and

demonstrate to the reader that you have understood their business requirements enough to

recommend specific BI in the form of a dashboard.

Make use of the course material and especially the BI Lifecycle to develop the parts of the

assignment – this is business problem-solving and understanding someone’s requirements – a skill

you will use as a professional.  Like all skills can take practice!

 

How the assignments fits with the lectures

 Organisations need to be better at finding opportunities and dealing with threats to do

better due to increased competition (Lecture 1).

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 BI can help in dealing with the problems (threats) and opportunities or – put another way – BI

can assist with the organisation’s normal planning and performance management processes

(Lecture 2).

 Which is a specific opportunity and threat (or what business priorities/risks) is the

organisation facing related to the Scope you choose?  There are some generic examples in

Lecture 4, but for your assignment you need to work that out for yourself. Based on what

you choose to focus on, there will be specific users and data you need to focus on

(Lecture 4).

 Then you need to build the dashboard – Lecture 5 also makes some suggestions about how

to deliver BI and what approach you will use (how to implement it). Remember that the

focus of the assignment is BI, so you don’t need to spend lots of time looking for threats and

opportunities/business priorities – just one.

 Lectures on how to better manage data in the organisation to support BI (Information

Management for BI and Analytics – Lectures 9 and 10 and Lecture 11 on Data Warehousing)

as well as challenges to be considered (e.g., data quality) are relevant to recommendations

you will make in Assignment 2.

 

Presentation/structure

The structure should address the points listed in the assignment outline (at beginning of this guide).

As a minimum include a title page and section headings. The title page is separate to the assignment

cover page.

Sample templates for the two assignments are available on the course website.  You don’t have to

use these. You can also use some parts of these templates (eg: the sample templates include Table

of Contents and Executive Summary, you can leave these out if you want).

Since this is proposal for a business audience, it should be presented in a professional format,

however the effort should be on what the assignment.

Using bullet points are OK for some sections but you’ll need sentences for each point (ie. just a bullet

point list with no explanation won’t work)

 

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Word limit

Assignment 1: 1000 words +/- 10%.

Assignment 2: 2000 words +/- 10%

One mark will be deducted if the assignment is too short or too long for each 10% too short or too

long. Keeping to a word limit requires a focus on what the reader most needs to know.

These are included in the word count:

 The ‘body’ of the assignment:

 Headings

 Direct quotes

 Summary/Executive Summary (if you chose to include one)

 Diagram headings and captions

 Footnotes

 

These are excluded:

 

 Title page

 Table of contents

 References

Referencing/Backing up your statements

Referencing is important for both assignments to: (a) expand your knowledge of the assignment

topic and (b) provide evidence to the claims you make and (c) demonstrate you know what you are

talking about to make a convincing proposal.

UniSA has a number of resources here: www.unisa.edu.au/referencing

The general rule is if you are using information or data that is not of your own creation then you

need to acknowledge it.  Not only is this for academic integrity but to add weight to your

recommendations – to show they are just not opinions.

This includes the screenshots, data you use and points taken from the lectures.

 

How many references?

That depends on how many points you are making. Generally more is better because you have used

more sources to understand the topic and reinforce your points.

A minimum of 3 references is required, not including the lecture material and where you source

sample dashboard and data from. Just adding as many references as possible without using them in

the assignment won’t earn maximum marks.

If you plagiarise (ie. copy from references and don’t include it in quotes or include a reference) you

will be penalised – we have failed students for doing this!

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We want your understanding on the topic, not copied words from experts – this only demonstrates

that you can research well, not apply your learning.

Reference quality

The type (quality) of references makes a difference and this is considered in the marks as well.  Feel

free to use the readers and links from the lectures and Course Outline.

Avoid marketing/vendor sites and general websites – the quality is not assured, ie. anyone can get a

website up regardless of their expertise and marketing material from software companies is usually

biased. The exception would be news sites when you want to report an event.

Finding references by Googling them is a poor approach – try the library catalogue instead.

 

Reference recency

Since BI is a fast moving area use references from the last 5 years*. Consider if you were the CEO

receiving the proposal – in a fast changing business environment would you trust a report that is

using data from 6 years ago?

However in some cases – especially for data for Assignment 2 – you not be able to find recent data

then explain that.

* eg: agile methodology, self serve BI, big data, spatial data, more user-friendly/accessible

predictive analytics, BI being initiated and funded by business not IT and cloud infrastructure

that are new to mainstream BI in the last 5 years.  These are significantly changing the

approach to making BI available

 

Referencing style

Please use the Harvard style of referencing in-text citations.  Refer to section on ‘Harvard Rules’ and

‘Harvard Guide’ here www.unisa.edu.au/referencing

The references for data used can be included in the references section.

References must be in English.

References must be available when the assignment is being marked.

 

Assignment 1 – Benefits of a dashboard

 Be as specific as you can to that organisation’s business needs.

 Outline what information needs relating to a business priority would the dashboard answer.

 Making general statements about the benefits for a dashboard will not be useful – the test is

 

whether what you write applies only to your organisation and not to a number of other

organisations:  if it is not specific enough then it won’t get as many marks.

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Assignment 1 – Sample dashboard from the Web

 Make it as relevant as possible to the scope of the dashboard – the reader wants to get a sense

of what you would build for them – eg: if you are focussing on HR, it’s no good providing a

dashboard about manufacturing.

 Include a paragraph describing the sample dashboard.

 Samples can be found on the web and in sample downloads (eg: Microsoft Power BI, Tableau,

IBM Cognos Mobile iPad app available from iTunes).

 It doesn’t have to be an actual organisation.

 Make sure to reference where you obtained the sample from.

 

Data to be used

Initial thoughts on what data should be included (including internal and external data) – should be

relevant to the questions the dashboard is going to answer (related to the opportunity or threat the

organisation is facing).

You don’t have to find real data for Assignment 1 but it is beneficial and makes your proposal more

convincing if you do some research on potential data sources and provide suggestions on which

available data could be used.

 

Finding Data

Finding data about the industry of your organisation is not a requirement but it is a useful skill to

develop and as a professional you will have to do it often in your career. It is rarely easy to find good

quality and reliable data, however it is getting easier!  But done well, you can bring new insight and

value to an organisation if you can obtain information, especially if it is not already available to from

internal systems (eg: like benchmarking info).

Importantly think about the questions you want to answer with your dashboard because this will

focus your search (too much data is also a problem!).  Publicly listed companies (those that have

shares and are on a stock exchange) will often have an investor page.  Many organisations have to

report to government bodies like regulators (ASIC, ombudsmen, etc).  Look for annual reports and

the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or US and European equivalents) are useful.  Federations,

associations and industry bodies (like the Australian Bankers Association if you were studying a

bank) are another source. Often the data will be confidential and you can’t obtain it – so consider

using data related to that industry/sector.

Examples

 Qantas’ performance is impacted by tourism, exchange rate, fuel prices, visa conditions,

other airlines and terrorism.

 A physiotherapy practice you would look for health related data and aging population. Aging

population is a hot topic especially in South Australia.

 Demographic information on which age groups use mobile phones.

The importance is the relevance to the question and the reliability of the data to answer the

question – not the volume!

Focus on external data made available by public accessible web portals (see links below).

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Do research on data that is related to the industry.

It is likely that you will not find data that is directly related to your organisation. Therefore think

about the industry and in a wider scope think about how can data that is publicly available be useful

for the organisation.

Do not use any data that is confidential or commercially sensitive you may access to.

Do not pay for any data.

Do not contact the organisation and ask for data.

Allow enough time to find and prepare the data – do not leave to the last minute.

 

Sample data sources: 

 

 Gartner’s analysis by industry (see Using Gartner Resources tip sheet)

 IBIS World (via the UniSA Library)

 Census and Statistics Department HK

 HK Government http://data.gov.hk/

 Open Data HK https://opendatahk.com/

 Economic Report & Business Statistics http://www.gov.hk/en/business/market/economic/

 Economic & Financial Data for HK http://www.hkma.gov.hk/eng/market-data-and-

statistics/economic-and-financial-data-for-hong-kong.shtml

 http://lemire.me/blog/archives/2012/03/27/publicly-available-large-data-sets-for-database-

research/

 http://bitly.com/bundles/hmason/1

 http://www.kdnuggets.com/datasets/index.html

 http://aws.amazon.com/datasets/

 Tableau resources: http://public.tableau.com/s/resources

Assignment submissions

 Electronically as MS Word or PDF document.

 Don’t include your report in a zip archive because Turnitin won’t work then.

 

Assignment 2 Mock-up Dashboard

 You need to submit a sample example in PowerBI or Tableau by submitting a packaged Tableau

file (*.twbx) or PowerBI (*.pbix) file.

 A screenshot of the dashboard must be included in the report.

 To demonstrate the value of combining data your dashboard needs to use at least more than

one data source.

 There are many online resources available that help you in learning to use both tools.

 

 

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Other

 Do not write in the first person (“I”)

 Use formal language – this is a report intended for the CEO/Head of your organisation.

 Feel free to use diagrams, tables, quotes to explain your ideas.

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