Want BI Solutions that Succeed? Know your Audience
How do you ensure your customers will use the business intelligence solutions you created for them?
Whether development follows waterfall or agile methodology, business input to a project is incredibly important.
It is crucial to relate the project to business processes and apply measurements along the way that show business value during the project – as well as after it has launched.
Relating Work to Business Processes
The key to a project’s success: Gather early and frequent feedback from your audience on how they will use the tools you develop. After the requirements gathering phase, it is also a good exercise to walk through use cases. Get inside the heads of your users. Know how they think. And know how they want to use the product you are developing.
Think about their experience with data and numbers. Does their job currently require them to focus on specific measures or broad-based reporting? The answer to this question tells you how your audience will process data.
A system that is designed for tactical people whose jobs focus on relationships will be very different from a system designed for people whose core jobs rely heavily on data to make decisions. Showing users complex data in a way they can understand is important. The only way to do so is to keep your audience in mind.
The Push and Pull of BI Solutions
When a customer requests BI solutions, they often don’t know what to expect when implemented. They may have a few ideas in mind, and it’s important to build upon those concepts. However, recreating what your customer is used to seeing is almost always a mistake. Businesses invest time and resources into business intelligence solutions, so they expect their current state to improve.
Although your client may initially insist that the solution mirror their current state, it is important to push for change to achieve a better end result. There may be another way to give your customer what they want. Implementing a business intelligence solution is a game of give and take; gathering requirements is important and so is listening to your customer.
But recreating the mistakes of the past are detrimental to the success of the future solution. Being creative in the solution by identifying new metrics and insights will ensure your solution is valuable.
Showing Benefits of Your Work
Whether your customers are internal or external, showing your project’s business value is paramount. In order to show value, measurements must be put in place before your project gets off the ground. A good place to start is to look at your project goals and determine what measurable components exist. Some obvious goals: save time, increase revenue, decrease expenses, and identify new opportunities or problem areas.
Showing tangible benefits of your work may seem daunting, but starting with a few initial reports is simple and effective. Your benefits reporting will evolve over time as usage increases, and even more, benefits are realized.
In the end, your work is successful when business users are able to use it effectively and see insights that directly correlate with their daily work. As developers and analysts, we often create solutions that appeal to us. But, we must remember to keep the audience at the forefront of every BI solutions development, especially during the biggest challenges. the effort to keep them involved will make all the difference.