Part 1: Determining Your Use Cases
The most important step in the BI buying process is to understand the reason for your purchase. In order to make the smartest, most effective BI software purchase possible you must understand your use cases and how a BI solution would solve each use case. The biggest mistake you could make is to purchase a BI solution without solidifying your use cases.
What is a use case?
For the purpose of this guide, a use case is defined as a set of business user or stakeholder goals. To put it simply, the use case outlines the business user or stakeholders’ problems, and how the BI solution will help solve the problems.
How to determine your BI use cases
When determining your BI uses cases, you can apply either a bottom-up or top-down approach. The bottom-up approach examines who is asking for business intelligence solutions within your organization and why that group or those groups are asking for a BI tool.
The top-down approach allows company leadership to determine the areas of business that would most benefit from a BI solution. Leadership may have a broader perspective, allowing them to see where communication or business process improvements can be made.
Our recommendation is to use both methods and involve all stakeholders when pursuing a business intelligence tool. When choosing which use cases to identify, begin with a use case that can generate a quick success story, reinforcing support for the BI solution by showing positive results. Though you want to tackle your most important needs, use less complicated use cases to start your BI solution testing.
Here are a few suggestions for areas to find use cases for BI in your company:
Manual Data Collection
Look for areas where your team may be spending a lot of time doing routine data activities. When you spot activities such as creating spreadsheet reports, or manually compiling weekly or monthly status reports, this may be an indicator that your team could use business intelligence. Leveraging BI to automate the collection of data and communication of information is always a winning proposition.
Examine your critical business processes and look for communication inefficiencies within the processes. These inefficiencies may literally be points where the process has failed due to insufficient information and communication between the different groups involved in the process, or due to systems not being integrated. Business intelligence can serve as the solution that brings information from multiple systems to provide a complete picture for the groups so that each group can make better decisions.
Data Black Holes
Find your data “black holes.” These are places in your organization where data disappears. Data black holes may result from security, a lack of resources, or because the information is siloed and the owner of the data doesn’t want to extend access to it. Data black holes exist either because your organization hasn’t considered the power of sharing data between departments, or someone in the organization is preventing data access due to lack of resources or security reasons. Any data black hole situation is a great use for BI.
What are your core, forward-driving business processes? These include processes involving any activities that are revenue generating, service fulfillment, customer support, human resource on-boarding, and beyond. Identify the key processes in your business that drive your business forward, and determine the key metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for these processes. Once you have determined the KPIs for your key processes, BI becomes a great tool to measure whether these processes are working and how to improve them.
Documenting Your BI Use Case
Here is an outline for how to document your BI use case.
The first step in documenting your BI use case is to identify the problem you are trying to solve with BI.
The second step for documenting your BI use case is to flesh out a diagnosis of the problem, including the specific problem areas and potential solutions for each problem area.
Next, identify the primary stakeholders for the BI use case. This group would be the stakeholders that specifically have a problem and are seeking the solution.
After identifying the primary stakeholders, identify the supporting stakeholders who will aid in implementing a solution to the problem.
Finally, set a measurable goal that explains how the BI tool will help solve the problem and the ideal outcome of fixing the problem.
Once you have documented your BI use case or cases, it’s time to identify and define your user personas.
In the next chapter, we will talk about determining your user personas.