Category: News

Stop doing useless business intelligence reports


User story for data-driven decision making

Business intelligence report can be a great tool for data-driven decision making, but sometimes you end up generating reports with no business value. Learn how to tackle the situation.

Today’s business intelligence and reporting tools are powerful. In fact, creating new reports is so quick and easy that sometimes you can get carried away and lose focus on what is actually important for the business and your work.

How to get the most from BI tools and avoid making useless reports? There are many ways, but I’ll share you one that is simple and easy to try. It’s called a user story.

User stories are familiar to those involved with agile software development. A user story is a concise description of a software requirement written from an end-user perspective. It helps a development team get an idea what a user expects from a software and why.

User stories are written in the following format:

“As a user X, I want Y, so that Z”

For example, “As a streaming service user, I want the service to save the playback position, so that I can easily resume the playback later”.

User stories are also applicable for designing reports. When it comes to data-driven decision making, we can pre-formulate the story as follows:

“As a user X, I want to know Y, so that I can take an action Z”

For example: “As a purchase manager, I want to know which deliveries are behind schedule, so that I can immediately contact the supplier”.

A great thing about applying user stories in business intelligence report design lies in the fact that you have to justify your information needs through a practical measure. It is always nice to know everything, but data without action is of little value.

In most cases, you need more than one user story to create a report. If you end up with too many stories, you can always prioritize your wishes. The easiest way is to give up those unfinished stories that don’t describe a clear action. The next best thing is to drop those stories that do not support the business goals or make your life easier.

Writing good user stories is a skill too, which gets better with practice. A common mistake is to write a user story that is too broad or vague. For example, “As a project manager, I want a project report, so I can see how projects are going”. The user story should also not describe how the solution should be implemented. That’s up to report designer and developer to figure out.

That’s it, now try to write your own stories!