Post by Rob Collie
One of Our Clients Sent This to us Before a Consult. It is Perfection.
The Dysfunctional Myth of “Requirements Discovery”
A traditional BI project typically starts with “requirements discovery.” This is where YOU, the business, get to spend multiple days, weeks, or even months teaching someone else (a BI consultant or internal BI pro) about your business.
There are MULTIPLE problems with this traditional methodology:
- YOU are the teacher (teaching about your biz), but YOU are paying. Seems backwards yes? Money usually flows in the opposite direction of knowledge transfer. But not in BI.
- YOUR time is a MASSIVE hidden cost. In addition to the fees you may be paying, don’t forget that YOUR time is being consumed in the process. If we were going to put an “honest” cost on a BI project, the time consumed by Business personnel should be included. (And that’s a lot more than your salaries – there’s opportunity cost to the business as well since you aren’t doing OTHER things).
- When the dust settles on “discovery,” the BI Pro STILL does not understand. Oh, everyone PRETENDS that “discovery” is over, but really, it’s just begun. In a few weeks, when the first “results” come in from the BI Pro, you will then, ahem, discover that there were tremendous misunderstandings.
This dysfunction is the root of BI failure. Projects that never end. Projects that end, but under-deliver. And also… projects that never even start. If you’ve ever said “we can’t afford BI,” you were both simultaneously correct AND unknowingly reacting to this dynamic.
This dysfunction is NOT your fault, NOR is it the BI Pro’s fault. You see, we’re terribly ineffective at communication, us humans – both on the “send” side AND the “receive” side. No exceptions.
The people involved are FINE. It’s the methodology that’s broken. I don’t have a single critical word for the PEOPLE involved in such projects. We’d need to be Vulcans, equipped with the Mind Meld power, to make this approach work well.
So WHY did a bad methodology gain acceptance in the first place? Because the software vendors did this TO the world. Perpetrated it ON the world. They built software that REQUIRED this sort of methodology. All of the big players share historical blame here – Microsoft, IBM, Cognos, Business Objects, Microstrategy. All of them. Let’s shine a light on them.