Before launching the implementation of a business intelligence application, and in order to best serve end-users and avoid confusion and problems down the road, a prudent IT professional will make a point of asking specific questions concerning requirements. However, all too often, the questions assume a level of knowledge and familiarity with BI that the users may not possess, and the answers may therefore be incorrect and easily misunderstood.
So a few basic questions need to be addressed by end-users so you have a clear idea of.
At what level are the user’s technical skills?
Many people have an inaccurate or overblown perception of just how sophisticated their tech knowledge is, so leave the direct question aside and simply find out how familiar they are with Excel and its features. If someone has a pretty complete working knowledge of Excel and can create formulas and interpret numbers, they are likely to be able to utilize BI.
How much time can they spare to find and analyze information?
Usually, people have a need to find and access information, but have very limited time to accomplish the task. And if they don’t have the time, they don’t need a BI tool. BI is for those whose positions in their organization grant them the time to use it – analysts, for instance, rather than executives.
What sort of questions do they need answered?
Knowing this is essential in order to know how to help users. For example, if the user wants to ask spontaneous, random questions, they need ad hoc query tools. For keeping tabs on the status of a key metric, scorecards, dashboards and performance management are the way to go.
What sort of time frame is their data contingent on?
There are three levels of time demands related to business intelligence. Real-time data is used to monitor front line operational processes. Information is displayed and updated concurrent with an ongoing business event. This dictates the use of dashboards and reports. A scheduled update means data is updated on a set basis – once a day, every other hour, etc. Most BI deployments are quite compatible with scheduled updates in one form or another. On demand covers instances when the user needs to directly access information held in a near-real-time data warehouse. In these situations, good BI deployment methods include reports, dashboards, and guided and ad-hoc reports.