Not sure where to start when choosing a BI solution adapted to your needs? To find the perfect solution, the best method consists in writing your Business Intelligence project specifications. Find out how to proceed step by step and what criteria you need to consider.
Are you looking to integrate a business intelligence solution into your company? Download our ready-to-use specifications.
IDENTIFY YOUR TEAMS’ NEEDS
Before you start using a BI solution, it is essential to assess your company’s needs. Indeed, for your teams to adopt your dashboard software, it must be able to help them achieve their objectives, which can be of different kinds:
- Simplify decision-making.
- Optimize processes and increase efficiency.
- Create value by exploiting new sources of revenue.
- Gain competitive advantage.
- Better anticipate market trends.
- Identify problems and malfunctions so as to solve them faster…
Beyond the functional needs, it is also important to assess the volumes of data to be managed. This way, you can size your Business Intelligence tool to make the most of your data.
This need identification phase is crucial to guiding your BI project and drafting relevant specifications that will help you choose a dashboard solution adapted to your needs.
STRUCTURE YOUR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SPECIFICATIONS
Drafting specifications for a dashboard software requires a rigorous methodology. To help you with this task, here is an overview of the essential points to be addressed in this document.
A Business Intelligence project cannot be separated from the context in which it is created. That is why it is very important to introduce your specifications by giving some key information, for example:
- Your field of activity.
- The size of your company.
- The organization and structure of your company.
- Typical user profiles.
- The project manager in charge of deploying the solution.
It’s time to get to the heart of the matter by listing in detail the features you expect from your BI solution. Here, we can distinguish 5 main categories of functional needs: data, reports, dashboards, queries and management.
- Data storage methods.
- Possibility to connect to several data sources (flat file, database, etc.)
- Using a data warehouse or data mart.
- Data security.
- Graphical interface for reporting.
- Performing calculations and filtering data.
- Report preview before generation.
- Supported data sources and volumes.
- Using pre-configured data cubes.
- Integrating graphical representations: tables, curves, histograms, etc.
- Report creation wizard.
- Exporting and disseminating reports.
- Possibility to create dynamic pivot tables.
- Integrating graphical representations, images, texts, etc.
- Notification system.
- Entering comments on a dashboard.
- Filtering an element or the whole dashboard.
- Exporting a dashboard to PDF, PPT, Excel, etc.
- Access control and authentication system (SSO).
- Creating queries to retrieve data from the database.
- Launching queries in deferred mode.
- Standard statistical functions: mean, variance, standard deviation, etc.
- Creating key performance indicators (KPI).
- Availability of predefined indicators.
- KPI historization.
- Trend forecast calculation.
- Configuring thresholds.
- Customization of KPIs by users.
- Dissemination of indicators.
- Dynamic alerts by e-mail, SMS, etc.
- Simulation and forecasting features.
Of course, each project is unique and this non-exhaustive list is likely to vary from one company to another, but it will give you a good overview of the essential features of a dashboard software.
- Customizing reports and dashboards.
- Enhanced graphics and layout.
- Inserting text in reports.
- Setting up headers and footers.
- Wizards to guide users.
- Changing the type of graphical representation.
- Availability of documentation and support in French.
- User screen refresh mode.
- Adjustment parameters for data processing times.
- Memory management of processes.
- Memory management of processes from several databases.
- Access to the BI solution from a mobile device.
- Supported terminals and operating systems: iOS, Android, etc.
- Need for a responsive design (mobile & tablet).
- Access rights management and authentication from mobile devices.
INTEGRATION OF THE SOLUTION INTO THE INFORMATION SYSTEM
- Data sources to which the solution must connect.
- Connectors included in the solution.
- Possibility to connect the solution with an authentication provider or an LDAP directory.
- Integration of the BI solution into an external application: such as an enterprise portal.
- Integration of an external application into the BI solution.
ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE SOLUTION
- Definition of user profiles.
- Public access feature without authentication.
- Right and access management.
- Visualization of the processes in progress through the administration console.
- Remote control of the administration console.
- User management support mode.
- Levels of authorization.
- Data security between the server and the client.
- Integration of the solution with a data backup tool.
- Alert in case of incident.
- Predefined retry scripts in case of an incident.
- Solution rendering mode: client-server, website…
- Interface technology for administration and reporting.
- Supported web browsers.
- Workload distribution.
- Multiprocessor architecture.
- Fail over (duplication of servers that take over in case of failure).
- Cluster of servers in case of very large volumes of data.
- Technology and language used by the solution.
- Requirements for installation at the server, CPU or system level (OS support).
- Use of applets, ActiveX or other transported code.
- Remote installation and update.
- Installation on a server cluster.
- Setting up log files.
- Upward compatibility in case of migration to another software version.
- Functional and technical training to learn how to use the tool.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT INDICATORS AND CHARTS
Choosing the right KPIs is key to improve the performance of your company on a daily basis. It is therefore recommended to define them early in your project, as soon as you write your Business Intelligence specifications.
There are as many indicators as there are BI projects: the key is to select relevant KPIs according to your needs, your objectives and your business. Here are some examples:
- Financial KPIs: turnover, working capital, break-even point, net cash flow…
- Commercial KPIs: conversion rate, retention rate…
- HR indicators: salaries, training, absenteeism…
Another essential ingredient for achieving successful dashboards is choosing the right graphical representations. Histogram, curve, pie chart, radar, gauge… There are endless possibilities! Therefore, make sure you have the most appropriate graphics to visualize each of your KPIs.
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE PROJECT: PITFALLS TO AVOID
In addition to writing specifications, the deployment of a dashboard solution requires project management. Thus, to avoid any failure, certain aspects must be carefully considered.
A POOR UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEEDS
In some cases, the requirements of a BI project may be poorly defined or understood. This situation may lead to designing dashboards and indicators that are not very relevant and do not allow for effective management of activity and performance.
Thus, it is essential to involve all the users during the drafting of the Business Intelligence specifications, in order to perfectly identify the needs and expectations of each user.
AN OVERLY AMBITIOUS PROJECT
The deployment of a dashboard software often raises very high expectations. However, it is preferable not to be too ambitious and to adopt a progressive approach, consisting in integrating new features little by little and enriching the tool progressively.
Initially, it is best to set modest but achievable goals. Indeed, to be adopted by users, the BI solution must quickly bring results and prove that it is more efficient than the tools used previously.
Features, ergonomics, performance, mobility… Drafting specifications for a Business Intelligence project requires reviewing many criteria, while taking care to define your needs, as well as your key indicators and graphical representations. This is an essential step in choosing the most suitable BI solution and succeed in your BI project.