Trying to come up with the right requirements for your business intelligence system? Most companies simply ask business users what they want. This certainly seems like a logical approach. But it's not, writes Larry Zagata on MiPro Consulting's Unfiltered blog.
The problem is, users are (either knowingly or unwittingly) selfish. Zagata explains:
... if you ask users what type of reports they need, they will provide an answer based upon the limits of their experience and job domain. Answers will be derived from what they use now, problems they have experienced in getting data or information, and "individualized" not process-based needs.
The key is to embed BI in business processes, an exercise Zagata likens to "peeling back the metaphorical onion." Happily, Zagata followed up with a later post in which he offered a real-world illustration of what he meant.
Using a chart for a consumer packaged goods/retail business, Zagata shows how
If done right, requirements gathering will yield useful reports for all areas of the business potentially impacted by the inventory process. As he notes:
This is a far cry from simply creating an inventory turns report for the inventory manager.
This sounds a lot like a process-oriented approach to BI requirements gathering I wrote about last year, from Steve Williams of DecisionPath Consulting. Like Zagata, Williams recommends specifying:
Essentially, if you want the right answers, you've got to learn to ask the right questions. This is true of business in general (and life in general, for that matter), but especially for BI initiatives.