How to handle crazy BI reporting requirements – Ask the 5 “W’s”

Reporting - Lodestar SolutionsHave you ever received a custom reporting request or data request that makes no sense?  Maybe you ask questions and the response you get makes you think, “Are these people are insane?” Instead of getting frustrated and venting to officemates, this is your time to shine!  The thing is, most people will reluctantly handle BI reporting requirements if it’s a superior or they will bury the request in the mounting pile.   STOP! This is an opportunity knocking at your door. 

There is a reason someone is asking the question! Here are some potential reasons for crazy BI reporting requirements :

  • Data is not available elsewhere or not accessible.
  • Data is not in a useable format.
  • Bad data exists.
  • There’s a business reason to look at data in different ways.

When you get these crazy BI reporting requirements requests, try asking the requester a few questions but remember to preface it by saying, “If you don’t mind, I would like to ask a few questions so that I build the report not just to provide you this information but hopefully address your next question regarding this data.  If I better understand your request, I will be able to create a more relevant solution.” 


  • Who will be using this report?
  • What would be your next question if this data seems out of expected ranges?
  • Will you need this on the mobile devices? Will you need to work with this offline?(Where)
  • How often will you need this information updated? (When)
  • Explain how you will use this data?  What business question are you trying to answer?  (This is the “Why” they need it.)

Once you understand the Who, What, Where, When and Why, you can create the best solution possible not just more reporting that will lead to another request.

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