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Asking the right questions

February 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Following up on the BI strategy, here is a non exhaustive list of questions to ask before planning and implementing a BI project:

1 – identify the business needs:

  • What is the business of this organization, and what is the purpose of their reporting needs?
  • What kind of reports are needed:
    • Decision support?
    • Performance management?
    • Dashboards and Scorecards?
    • Customer oriented, financial?
    • System analysis?
    • Data Quality?
    • Enterprise BI?
    • Data Warehousing?
    • Master Data Management?
    • Predictive Analysis?
  • Are the needs local to a department or general?
  • Are the needs reproducible or would they be generated on an Ad-Hoc basis?
  • How will reports be used:
    • Embedded and read in another document?
    • Printed and archived for historical purpose?
    • Accessed on line (intranet or extranet)?
    • Accessed on a mobile device?
    • Presented during a projection or in a book?
    • Scheduled on a time or event based frequency?
    • A mix of the above?
  • What will the retention of the report be, should historical reports be kept?
  • Can we define each reports or groups of reports:
    • What is the purpose of the report?
    • What are the metrics of the report?
    • How should the report be sorted, ranked, filtered?
    • In what format should the report be presented: tabular, chart, cross tab, a combination?
    • Are there calculations involved? Exceptions highlighting? What are the business rules for these?
    • What are the selection criteria for this report? Are these criteria pervasive across reports?
  • Who should access the reports, who needs them?

2 – What are the technical constraints?

  • What is the budget for the BI project?
  • What is the time line for the BI project?
  • What kind of security applies to the content of the reports or system and how is this security handled and applied: at the system, the database or the report level?
  • Where is the data stored?
    • Is is easily available?
    • Is there a test environment?
    • Is it a multi-sources report?
    • Are some of the content not available in databases?
    • Are some of the content stored in proprietary systems (such as ERP, etc…)?
  • How clean is the available date, would there be any data cleansing required?
  • Is the data “report ready”, or are transformation or transfer required and possible?
  • Is the operational system accessible, or should the data be duplicated? How often, how “fresh” should the data be? Are there any concerns in accessing the operational database?
  • Metadata: are they defined, needed, accessible?
  • Are there non structured information involved?
  • Is there a corporate graphic chart to follow (for portrait, landscape, web reports)?
  • Are there some technical constraints: platform, OS (client and server), web browser, Database, network, security, login, hardware (RAM, CPU, etc..)?
  • What languages should the reporting project be available in?
  • What training is planned or scheduled?
  • Are there other existing similar projects we could rely on or improve?


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