Saturday, July 19, 2008

Business Requirements for BI

Steve Williams wrote a nice piece called Business Requirements for BI and the BI Portfolio: How to Get it Right, this month, in the DM Review.

He starts mentioning three primary deficiencies in generic BI requirements, traditional report requirements and functional specifications:

- They do not provide the basis for a compelling business case that business leaders buy into, one that clearly articulates how BI will be used within specific business processes to improve business performance.
- They do not provide enough specificity with respect to the kinds of BI applications that are needed, whereas BI is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of applications, from basic reporting and OLAP to sophisticated analytics.
- They do not provide enough specificity to guide development of the BI databases and applications that deliver the BI or to guide the business process changes that deliver the bang for the buck to the business.

He also explains the Weakness of generic BI business requirements and why BI functional requirements are not enough.

He defines a well-structured set of BI business requirements:

- Establishes a clear linkage between business strategies, the core business processes via which the strategies are executed and BI-driven business improvement opportunities (BIOs), which are the basis for a BI business case that is compelling to the business stakeholders;
- Identifies and clearly describes what business information, analytic tools and techniques, and decision support is required by the business to realize BI-driven improvement opportunities regarding management processes, customer processes and/or operational processes;
- Provides the essential input to the process of defining specific BI projects and prioritizing those projects based on key criteria such as business impact and time to market;
- Provides the means of aligning BI, business process improvement and balanced scorecard initiatives;
- Drives key data architecture decisions;
- Provides the basis for end-to-end traceability between BI requirements approved by business users and the delivered data stores and BI applications; and
- Provides a key baseline against which the performance of the BI initiative can be measured.

In my opinion, well-defined business requirements is one of the most important factors of success in an BI project.

Steve Williams also wrote a good book, with Nancy Williams, called:
The Profit Impact of Business Intelligence

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