Why are Business Requirements Important to BI and Data Warehousing Projects?
By: Datasource Consulting
When considering a Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehousing project, it’s extremely important to not overlook the process of gathering, prioritizing, and agreeing on the project’s business requirements. This process of discovery is done after the company’s business objectives are documented, validated and organized by each functional business area.
What’s the big deal?
Just why are business requirements so important to a BI project? Remember that KPIs, reports and dashboards have little value within an organization unless they support better decision making! Because all decision-making should support the company’s organizational strategy, aligning the BI system with business strategy and business objectives will maximize the value realized for the BI system.
What are business requirements?
First, let’s define what we mean when we talk about BI business requirements: “BI business requirements are requirements for specific business information to enable fact-based decisions in the context of business processes that impact business performance”.
Identifying meaningful business requirements entails ensuring all stakeholders are identified, and that all parties understand the business goals and vision of the BI or enterprise data warehouse project.
Additional benefits of a successful business requirements analysis include:
- Alignment of the BI system with business strategy to ensure the value is realized
- A better understanding of the system’s business user needs
- Greater data quality
- Tighter integration of BI systems with other systems (CRM, ERP)
How to get there: keys to success!
The requirements phase will help determine if the BI project will move the business forward, or simply create ‘pretty’, but not useful, reports. Here is a top-down and bottom-up approach and best practice to consider when gathering requirements for a successful BI project:
- Describe Business Objectives – Business objectives are the “executive view” to understand the purpose of the Data Warehouse. A business objective describes a desired business goal that can be achieved or supported by obtaining, organizing and analyzing information. Business objectives can be discovered by asking the question ‘We want information that will enable us to _____.’
- Describe Business Usage Scenarios - Usage scenarios are an ideal “user-focused” way to begin the discovery process. To unlock usage scenarios- ask the question, ‘What do I need to know in order to achieve a defined business objective?’ Usage scenarios provide context of how business information and data is used.
- Ask Business-Centered BI questions - A business question is an inquiry that must be completed to support a usage scenario. Identify business questions to gain more detail on specific information needs. These business questions and usage scenarios will help tie requirements back to a specific objective. Business questions are the foundation to start identifying specific data elements.
- Prepare a BI Blueprint - The BI blueprint documents dimensions and measures based on the business questions and usage scenarios. It outlines the most critical requirements for building BI solutions. Organize the information to prepare for evaluation.
- Organizing the usage scenarios by subject area provides an overall understanding and starting point for the logical model
- Always validate that you are meeting the business objective by continually validating that each business requirement is tied to a specific business objective. By following this process, you’ll be ensuring value is delivered. Focus on determining the benefits in terms of savings or revenue potential. Relentlessly ask, ‘How will you use the data to achieve a specific objective?’ ‘Is this data material in long-term savings or revenue potential?’ or ‘Can specific action be taken to meet an objective with this information?’
A successfully-run BI initiative can be a game changer for your organization. Getting there means properly gathering and prioritizing business requirements and building a system that tightly ties to and supports the company’s strategy. Only by applying best practices in requirements analysis and BI modeling can you realize the true value of the BI application and serve the needs of everyone in your organization.
Are you ready to discuss your project?
If you would like to talk about your BI solution, or for ideas on how to better gather and validate business requirements, email us. We’d love to chat!
This article was originally published on October 27, 2016 on CIO.com. You can read the original article on CIO at http://www.cio.com/article/3135708/agile-development/a-note-about-teams.html.