To make good decisions, every business needs the right data—at the right time. But who needs business intelligence (BI) tools?
In almost every organization, there are people with broad, possibly enterprise-wide responsibilities, as well as individuals in departments and cross-functional teams who have more limited decision making roles. They are all potential users of business intelligence tools and they typically fall into one of these categories:
- Divisional or departmental management
- Functional business users
- Power users (data analysts with deep technical skills)
When I develop BI solutions for mindSHIFT’s SharePoint clients, I like to work with the primary users early in the project, long before any programming is started. The goal is to be sure that the project deliverables meet their needs. Early interaction with the individuals who will use the BI screens and reports is a critical foundation for ensuring an on-target scope of work and the ultimate success of your BI project.
One of the best (and lowest cost) ways to elicit the true needs of the users is by prototyping the reports, graphs, charts and dashboards. Whiteboard and paper prototyping, with live interactive (and ideally in-person) discussion, is the easiest way to get the critical input and feedback you need to design useful BI tools. This is a great way to find out who really needs the business intelligence tools in an organization.
With today’s business intelligence technology and tools, boiling down “big data” into meaningful chunks is easier than ever before. Trends, snapshots of activity and results can be presented in formats that are intuitive to the reader. Creative screen layouts can make it easy for end-users to manage and assess the data. Reports like this one can be customized for an executive:
This executive dashboard example is designed to provide both numerical data and graphical representations of activities and results. Depending on the individual, they might ask for more visual components, or more tables of data. By prototyping early in the project, you’ll get the guidance you need to properly scope out your business intelligence data warehouse and system requirements for the intended users.
Pete Iuvara is a strategic, business-centric specialist at mindSHIFT Technologies who focuses on helping companies mature their digital web presence, increase lead generation and top line growth, and maximize bottom lines. Read Pete’s blog at
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More Information on Business Intelligence development and SharePoint Services from mindSHIFT
For more information on business intelligence and SharePoint development services, contact mindSHIFT or call 877-227-5054.