Discovering what user’s really want….

During 2011 I have seen hunch I have had for some time play out about how all too often IT lead projects focus on tools they have available rather than the end users information needs for today and the future. In my opinion project teams delivering high quality Business Intelligence solutions need to ensure they stay focused on not only innovative technical wizardry behind the scenes but the needs of the user to do their job more efficiently.

All too often I see business analysts stopping short in the requirements gathering process when they have identified what information is needed by a user and can “Mock Up” a columnar layout in Excel.  However I suggest there is more to it than that.

  • We need to start by identifying what the information need really is
  • Identify what location are the users going to interact with the information
  • Identify what  medium or device are they going to be using PC, tablet (iPad), Smartphone (android)
  • How often do they need the information
  • Dig deep into what are the users ultimately going to do with the information

The answer to the final question always proves to be most enlightening.  When challenged as to what users actually do with the information it can often uncover a very different need to a columnar report refreshed on a desktop PC in a office environment.

I have used the model above a number of times with customers to help them understand the user’s needs and found they were themselves surprised with the resulting tool selection.

I have seen a “Right tool for the right job” approach to BI tools selection could include the traditional offerings from SAP but expanded into the new SAP BusinessObjects technologies some years ago.

So when using the model above you might end up identifying the BEx tools from SAP are appropriate today but depending on the user’s location of use this might change to SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI on the iPad that comes with the newest BusinessObjects platform release BI4.0.

So can I urge you to start with the user and let their needs define what tools the project uses to meet their information needs.

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