Business Intelligence: Defining your Requirements and Design

Updated: Nov 9, 2018


  1. Your business managers lack clear Evidence (or the numbers) to Manage Effectively

  2. You may have detailed reports, but they are not clear in terms of Interactive Informative Performance Measures and they don’t explain the “why”

  3. You have concluded you need Business Intelligence Solutions but planning such an Initiative/Project is the next challenge, how do you go defining what you need?

Defining your requirements

Very good and experienced Senior Business Analysts think in a certain way. Before setting out your requirements, you need to shift your way of THINKING to the following:

1. Understand and Document the Business Problem and Objective

  • What Performance is important to Measure and Why – this is your objective

  • For every requirement you consider, refer to the objective and confirm it has a significant role in achieving the objective. If not, consider removing the requirement

2. It is nearly always about Measuring Performance:


  • What Primary Measures (i.e. Lag Measures) Indicate you are performing well or not e.g. Profit

  • What Secondary Measures (i.e. Lead Measures) can drive/impact the above measures


  • What would you like to Measure the above measures By e.g. Department, Product Type, Customer, Date

Note: Whenever a dimension (e.g. a Team or Customer) has the potential to perform differently to another, then it is worth adding as a Dimension to your BI solution. E.g. You should want to know what Teams or Customers are performing well v’s others. i.e. Which Teams or Customers do I need to focus on.

You need to understand what is performing well and what is not performing well.

3. Think 80/20 Principle. Your Visualisation Design Requirements must consider this. How much should you care about what is Performing well or not? Some things you should care enormously about and others not. It depends on the impact.

The following applies to nearly every business and it’s hugely important you focus on the Performance Areas with the greatest impact. Business Intelligence Solutions should help you achieve this.

As an example, you may have many Customers or Products. You may find less than 20% of products contribute to more than 80% of service desk calls. You may find that 20% of Incident Types contribute to 80% of all Safety Incidents.

You need help in knowing how to identify where your focus should be – i.e. focus on the 20% with greatest performance impact to improve.

You need to identify the 20% INPUTS that have 80% OUTPUT EFFECTS.

Which Customers are costing me the most? What products are providing the most Revenue?

4. Value Measures or Secondary Measure

Some Measures mean nothing without the secondary Measure.

e.g. Showing Cost breakdown by Customer doesn’t mean too much without showing Revenue or Profit also. Input V’s Output Measures are often good to see together

5. Mapping to Data - For all the Measures and Dimensions you have identified, list where the raw data comes from (i.e. what systems, fields and tables). If it is a calculation, define the calculations and the raw data parameters required to calculate.

I hope the above provides you with a framework for thinking and approaching your Requirements Defining phase of your BI project.

Feel free to reach out or share your experiences and challenges with me on


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