STOP REQUIREMENTS GATHERING! We were wrong! For years Lodestar Solutions has emphasized to our IBM Cognos clients the need for proper requirements gathering, and we were WRONG!
As a Business Analyst or BI Manager specializing in Cognos Analytics or Cognos 10 BI you need to stop gathering requirements and start DISCOVERING Requirements!
Many articles have been written on the importance of requirements gathering:
How to Gather BI Dashboard User Requirements to Nail Business Strategy Alignment
But they all seem to forget that the discussions, ideas and solutions must be collaborative. Even our own blogs skim over the interaction part of defining requirements:
Techniques for BI Requirements Gathering
5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips – What Are They (the Users) Not Saying?
It’s not gather the requirements, define the project and build it, although, that’s how many failed projects have been run!
What Our Clients Say?
Discovering is very different than gathering. At Lodestar Solutions, we recently interviewed a number of Cognos clients and they are expressing things like:
“We have best in class BI tools in Cognos but all we are delivering are pixelated pivot tables and running queries.”
“The end users don’t even know what they want and need.”
“The business can’t even tell me what they measure.”
Clients are frustrated that they are unable to use the powerful IBM Cognos Analytics and BI tools to their full power.
Your BI team can develop a million reports and dashboards, but if the organization can’t take action from what they see in the data or if the information has a trivial impact on the bottom line, then what’s the point?
The Dashboard Struggle
We all know that the struggle with business intelligence and dashboards is getting people to use them. But we also know as a business analyst tasked with “requirements gathering” you don’t have a crystal ball to tell you what they want!
I recently chatted with a VP of Finance based in Tampa and asked if he used dashboards. He laughed and said, “Some of my best friends are in IT and they have built me dashboards but I don’t use them,” as if he was bragging. I then asked why he didn’t use them. To which he responded, “I am old school, I like to do the analysis manually, besides no one else uses them on the finance team.” To which I asked if he was a leader or follower? Nothing like a good direct question to throw someone off.
We then discussed the man hours the organization was wasting. If all his 10 reports are following his lead and redoing everything manually monthly, instead of working with the BI team to discover what their real needs are and how they need to interact with the data, they are wasting precious corporate resources. Hours are spent data chasing instead of analyzing.
How do I get the business users to share what they need?
Clients have also told us it can take months or years to get people in their organizations to agree on what needs to be measured. Even more so, if we could solve that challenge it would be invaluable to their organization. Even the best tools, like IBM Cognos Analytics (C11 BI), won’t tell you what to put on a dashboard.
Other Cognos BI clients have told us they are certain their end users don’t really know what they need. This is exactly why you need to stop gathering dashboard requirements and start discovering them. The word gathering assumes that the requirements exists somewhere. It’s like picking wild berries, you just need to find the patch and collect them. But, it’s not like berry picking! Requirements need to be discovered through collaboration and discussion between the BI team, the data warehouse team, the end users and the executives.
IBM Cognos Analytics (C11 BI) is amazing. It has so much more power than Cognos BI 10. The data visualizations are sexy. The access to data is game changing. But all of that will not help you if you keep doing the same thing, because, you will get the same results. Before you start deploying Cognos Analytics you need to pause. You need to stop gathering dashboard requirements and start discovering requirements.
Based on my experience most business analysts in the IBM Cognos realm focus on technical skills and not the soft skills.
To be extraordinary, to receive the recognition you deserve, you need to learn to facilitate the discussion and understand the art of defining and designing dashboard, measures, and other reporting requirements.
Lodestar Solutions is committed to helping you be extraordinary!
Step 1: Sign up for Lodestar’s webinar and learn through our Dashboard Teardown what to avoid when designing dashboards and how to get the end users to share their thoughts so you can discover requirements. You will also get to preview Cognos Analytics (Cognos BI 11)
Click here to join our free webinar that will show you a real client dashboard audit. We pick apart a dashboard that was built exactly to the user's specification. And guess what? No one used it.
Step 2: Contact us about our programs that teach the art of facilitating end user requirements discovery sessions. Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com