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Business Intelligence Requirements Gathering: Ask the Right Questions!

We have discussed these things before: business intelligence requirements gathering, maintenance management, and even business intelligence for maintenance management. The following example dialog is intended as an easy way to understand how asking the right questions can lead to getting the right answers for your business when it comes to business intelligence requirements gathering. This is a key stage, and that’s where the right information needs to be collected.

For the purpose of this mock discussion, let’s assume the following:

MM Lead:  Leader in the maintenance area who has a requirement to give to the BI team

BI Lead:  Business intelligence leader trying to understand requirements

Example Conversation

MM Lead:  I need a report that tells me how many service requests have not been turned into work orders. That’s all I need, just a report.

BI Lead:  Ok, help me understand a little bit more.  What about this report is important to your business?

MM Lead:  It is an indicator of whether service requests are left open and work possibly being missed.

BI Lead:  Is part of the reason you are asking for this report because you are finding a high number of service requests left open?

MM Lead:  Not a high number, but occasionally I get calls asking about a service request that was entered but no work has started. It takes a lot of my time to investigate.

BI Lead:  When you get those calls, what do you?

MM Lead:  I look up the service request to see if it has turned into a work order or not.

BI Lead:  So you look it up one at a time and only when it is brought to your attention?

MM Lead:  Correct.

BI Lead:  Do you always find the same results?

MM Lead:  No. Sometimes the user does not actually complete the process and save the service request. Or sometimes the process is not run to turn it into a work order, and sometimes we do simply not act upon the work order.  Generally those are the things that happen.

BI Lead:  Does it matter to you the reasons why those happen?

MM Lead:  Yes, those all have different causes that should be fixed.

BI Lead:  To whom is this information important?

MM Lead:  Myself, our maintenance coordinators, and the end user who filed the service request.

BI Lead:  Based upon what you have described to me. I have a few suggestions that would actually lead me to a solution that is not a report, but a dashboard.  We want to be proactive about addressing any service orders that are not turned into work orders.  We also have different reasons why those service requests are not generated — and if the user does not complete the process properly, there may not be data available to generate a report.

If we create an embeddable pagelet that shows service requests that are not yet turned into a work order ID, we can show the user who created the service request and the date and the days outstanding.  You would then be able to log into PeopleSoft in the morning and understand at a glance any issues when you start your day.  We can also include the work order and show service requests with work orders that are not yet complete to allow users to understand the status and avoid asking unnecessary questions.  Going even further, if we hyperlink to the source service request, you can easily conduct your investigation and resolve the issue.  We’ll make this dashboard available to all those who can generate a service request, and if they do not see their name on the list and they have not yet received work they are expecting, then they can also look up and see if their service request was saved properly. This allows them to be proactive and reduce the time in which issues are uncovered.

An example would look like this:

MM_BI_Conversation_docx_-_Google_Docs

So, this example dialog represents a quick example of how asking the right questions and digging into the business reasons and what business questions need to be answered can lead you to the correct business intelligence solution.

Ask the right questions, get useful information. Ask the wrong questions, get information that doesn’t trace back to any real business problem or requirement. BI requirements gathering is such a critical step – we emphasize that with our customers all the time.

Questions? I’m available. Drop me an email.

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