Monday, March 01, 2010

Don’t Follow the White Rabbit

1book1 There is something special ingrained in the soul of a BI practitioner.  We love to think of all the twists and turns that we can take to analyze the data we are working with.  This comes in the form of dashboards with countless dials, traffic lights and indicators, graphs with multiple series, axis and dimensions, and grids and grids of good ol’ tabular data.  All this stuff makes us very, very happy with ourselves.

Ok checkpoint, a couple issues with this approach.  First of all, all this data can detract from the very business question you are trying to answer with your analysis.  Think about it, do you know of any user that actually has the time to sit down and analyze 200 points of information on a single report?  No, we need to enable our users to make the best decision in the least amount of time.  There are likely 2 to 3 key data points that will get them there.  Yes, it is ok to show basic trends and change indicators, but for Pete’s sake keep it simple.

Secondly, the more we go with this smorgasbord approach to BI we are encouraging requirements bloat in the next BI project or iteration.  Users will simply say to myself: “I should ask for everything I think I might need just so I know I can get it if I need it.”  Why wouldn’t they think that, when that is how we have delivered BI to date?

Fight the urge to go down the rabbit hole; strive to deliver 80% of the value with 20% of the work.  How much more value could you drive for your organization if you can quickly move on to the next opportunity rather than lingering in analysis paralysis?

This is a personal weblog, and does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer.